25 to 1: People of Color Experiences in Unitarian Universalism 1980

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25 to 1: People of Color Experiences in Unitarian Universalism 1980
25 to 1: People of Color Experiences in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005
May 26, 2006
25 to 1: People of Color Experiences in Unitarian Universalism
1980-2005
Joseph M. Santos-Lyons
Masters of Divinity Thesis (M.DIV)
Harvard Divinity School
Professor Wallace Best, Thesis Advisor
Catherine Playoust, Senior Seminar leader
Diane Moore, Faculty Advisor
May 26, 2006
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Dedication
To my wonderful family who sustain and remind me of heaven and earth. For our newest life
Miyka’ela Luwalhati, her mother Maria Aimee, her Kuya Gabriel Hiraya. Also to Bernadette
Santos, my mother-in-law who helps us out in so many ways. And finally, for the generations of
People of Color, within Unitarian Universalism, who have shared the free faith, and for me,
those outside yet sympathetic to my work, growth and ministry.
To friends, authors and mentors who shaped my heart and soul in this life – Isabel Allende,
Rigoberta Menchu, Dolores Huerta, Angela Davis, Quintard Taylor, Edwina Welch, Daniela
Diaz, Mustafa Kasubhai, Javier Cervantes, Robin Morris Collin, Alexandra Caballero, Consuela
Zumwalt, Andrea Adams, Trevor Montieth, Carmen Rubio, Brandon Sugiyama, Daniel Garcia,
Cindy Nguyen, Kim Nguyen, Glen Banfield, Maleah Ermac, Nathan Thuan Nguyen, Leslie Lum,
Jae-sik Kaufman, Eun-yung Paik, Alyce Gowdy-Wright, Kristen Harper, Danielle Gladd, Melvin
Hoover, Leon Spencer, James Brown, William Jones, Robette Dias, Manish Mishra, Marisa
Gutierrez, William Sinkford, Joo Young Choi, Diane Arakawa, Cheng-Imm Tan, Jose Ballester,
James Coomes, Mark Morrison-Reed, Michelle Bentley, Tony Brumfield, Janice Marie Johnson,
Hope Johnson, Gordon Bailey, Natalie Nguyen, Chester McCall, Mitra Rahnema, Dzu Do, Belva
Brown Jordan, Cheryl Giles, and Wallace Best.
Personal Note:
In September 2006 I will be beginning a Ministerial Internship with the Unitarian
Universalist Church of the Philippines based in Dumaguette and Manila. I am raising funds for
my internship expenses, given the limited resources of the UU Church of the Philippines to pay
for my basic living costs and ministerial development. Funds have been received from the Fund
for International Unitarian Universalism, covering roughly 50% of the costs anticipated. I am
seeking to raise an additional $3000 for the internship. I am asking those who receive this
thesis to consider donating $20 or more. If you are willing, please send to PO Box 3011,
Portland, OR 97208 or paypal to [email protected] Tax-deduction is a possibility, but
please contact me first. Thank you for your consideration.
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Table of Contents
Chapter I: Introduction .................................................................................................................... 6
Personal Story ........................................................................................................................... 10
Story of Rev. Jones ................................................................................................................... 13
Chapter II: Methodology and Frameworks ................................................................................... 15
Framework 1: Jones’s Diagnosis Determines Therapy ............................................................ 16
Framework 2: Dias Historical Development of Institutional Racism ....................................... 17
Dias Historical Development of Institutional Racism Chart .................................................... 20
Chapter III: Terms and Scope ....................................................................................................... 21
1980-2005 ................................................................................................................................. 21
People of Color Terminology ................................................................................................... 25
Chapter IV: Survey of Unitarian Universalist People of Color .................................................... 30
Chapter V: Whiteness of Unitarian Universalism ........................................................................ 40
Chapter VI: What Is At Stake ....................................................................................................... 49
Visions of UU People of Color ................................................................................................. 52
Historical Literature .................................................................................................................. 55
Race and Racism in the UUA ................................................................................................... 56
Congregational Race Relations ............................................................................................. 58
Denominational/Associational Race Relations ..................................................................... 62
General Assembly (GA) Race Relations .............................................................................. 64
Racial Barriers in UU Congregations ....................................................................................... 67
Chapter VII: People of Color Communities (1980-2005) ............................................................ 71
African-American Unitarian Universalist Ministries (1989-1998)........................................... 71
Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (1997- ) ................ 72
DRUUMM Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus (2003- ) ................................................................. 73
Latino/a Unitarian Universalist Networking Association (1996- ) ........................................... 75
UU Network on Indigenous Affairs (1992- ) ............................................................................ 77
UU Ministers Association ......................................................................................................... 77
UUA Board of Trustees ............................................................................................................ 78
Young Religious UU................................................................................................................. 79
Continental UU Young Adult Network .................................................................................... 80
District People of Color Efforts ................................................................................................ 81
Congregational People of Color Ministries .............................................................................. 81
Chapter VIII: Racial Ideas in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005 ............................................... 83
1980-1983: Post-Empowerment Controversy........................................................................... 83
1984-1991: Racial Code Talking .............................................................................................. 90
1992-1997: A Question About Racial/Cultural Diversity ........................................................ 95
1997-2001: An Answer To Racial/Cultural Diversity .............................................................. 99
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2002-2005: Black President of a White Denomination .......................................................... 106
Chapter IX: People of Color History in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005…………………..129
Religious Professionals of Color ............................................................................................ 112
1980-1989 ............................................................................................................................... 113
1990-1999 ............................................................................................................................... 118
2000-2005 ............................................................................................................................... 122
Chapter X: Conclusion and Recommendations ......................................................................... 124
Recommendations for Unitarian Universalist People of Color Ministry: .............................. 125
Recommendations for UUA Race Relations .......................................................................... 127
Table 1: Timeline of Racial Ideas 1980-2000............................................................................. 130
Table 2: List of Ministers of Color Fellowshipped by the UUA 1980-2005 .............................. 132
Appendix A: Survey of Unitarian Universalist People of Color 2005 ....................................... 134
Appendix B: Crossroads Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Institution .... 137
Appendix C: Meadville/Lombard Theological School, Multicultural Ministry Program (MMP)
Bibliography ............................................................................................................................... 142
Definitions:
GA – General Assembly, the annual meeting of delegates from Unitarian Universalist
congregations in North America.
UU – short for Unitarian Universalist. Generally used to describe individuals or specific
organizations aside from the central administration of the association of congregations.
UUA – short for the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, founded in 1961. It is
utilized to symbolize both the association of congregations and the central administration of the
association.
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25 to 1
The odds of meeting a Person of Color in a Unitarian Universalist
congregation are 25 to 1. There are no congregations with a majority of People of
Color. In a liberal religious faith with long standing commitments to racial
justice, a community of People of Color has never materialized. People of Color
are present, however, and increasingly active in the lifeblood of the Association.
We struggle within a White institution for respect, dignity and the right to sacred
space. What are our experiences? Who has come before us? What have we
experienced? What have we learned? May this history help each of us better
understand the wholeness of our religious home. Joseph Santos-Lyons, May 2006
Danielle DiBona and Vivian Hao (credit:
Santos-Lyons)
Kendall Renae and Paula Cole Jones (credit:
Santos-Lyons)
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Chapter I: Introduction
We have an American culture
in which European culture is the norm and standard,
and from which anything else is perceived as deviant, or not “right.”
It was within this context that Unitarian Universalism
was created and flourished.
Therefore, it is reasonable to turn a sharp and critical lens
on our history and practice and pre-suppositions,
to reveal in what ways Unitarian Universalism,
as a creation of the white European culture,
was designed to perpetuate white power and privilege.
What becomes obvious is the way in which our expression of our faith,
European religious language, music, form, color, texture, and story
have been the culture, normative, definitive.
By focusing on removing the understanding of
European culture as “right” and normal for our faith,
we create the context in which people of color can shape
a Unitarian Universalist faith which is compelling for them,
and in so doing, create a Unitarian Universalism which
more authentically and congruently lives its principles.
Similarly, we need to study our history with new questions
and heightened awareness,
so that we might better tell an authentic story of who we have been.
That must include the ways in which Unitarian Universalism
supported the oppressive structures,
behaved in ways which were oppressive ourselves,
protected white interests, and resisted change.
- Rev. Dr. Anita Farber Robertson
“Toward a Theology of Anti-Racism”1
Meeting another Person of Color in Unitarian Universalism for the first time was a
spiritual experience for me. I knew they existed; they had to exist, as we are identified as a
liberal and inclusive faith. As a child and youth growing up at the West Hills Unitarian
Universalist Fellowship in Portland, Oregon, my understanding of the world as it relates to
racial/ethnic cultures was stunted. The identities we claim, the names we call ourselves, in
racial, cultural or ethnic terms, were not easy to discuss at our fellowship or in my youth group
experiences. I developed a mask about myself, one that hid a part of who I was and segregated
me from the wisdom of the cultural communities I came from. This mask put me at risk of
losing a part of me, lying about or omitting a part of my historical personhood. Wholeness,
unity, oneness of the universe are theological and political beliefs I had learned in Sunday
Worship and Religious Education. There was a contradiction that rubbed inside me creating
friction, frustration and leading me to seek resolution in college.
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A year after high school I found grounding as a spiritual person on this earth, receiving
education and mentorship that helped me understand my sense of place racially and culturally.
Before the advent of the internet, I used Dewey Decimal, upper classmen, and professors to help
introduce and guide me to materials about Chinese, Asian-American, Multiracial, Biracial,
Transracial Adoptees and People of Color communities and experiences. Chicano and Native
friends welcomed me in their struggle for justice as colonized people; Black friends wrote papers
with me about the historical institutional racism that has shaped life in their community; Asian
friends challenged me to know myself and know the history of the people who lived so that I
may live, Multiracial and Biracial friends and I started a support group, and together, with White
friends who sought racial justice, we worked hard to be accountable and in solidarity with one
another. This growth however was in the absence of my own intentional spiritual development,
and as I found myself acting in ways I had learned in Unitarian Universalism, I remained curious
and open to returning to liberal religion.
At the General Assembly (GA)2 of Unitarian Universalist congregations held in 1995 in
Spokane, Washington, I was approached by a stranger, someone who had obviously done a quick
visual imaging scan before introducing themselves to me. I was asked, after a brief introduction
of names, if I would be interested in attending a meeting of Young Adults of Color sponsored by
the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations) Office of Young Adult Ministry.
My reaction was one of euphoria, in part because I had not anticipated any opportunity to meet in
religious community with other Unitarian Universalist People of Color, and in part because this
belief had been gnawing at my soul as I debated my future in the church. I had loved my
Unitarian Universalist experience as a child and youth, and I had embraced my experience of
understanding my identity and responsibility as a Person of Color. The spiritual experience was
in the miraculous nature of these two loves, that I had once thought paradoxical, meeting
together with harmony. The sense of connection was overwhelming with the dozen or so young
adults who gathered, and the simple process of checking in provided a satisfying spiritual
strength that has become a wellspring for my continued activism around People of Color
ministry in Unitarian Universalism today.
Mark Morrison-Reed, one of the most recognizable African-American Unitarian
Universalists in the last 25 years, due in large part to his critical research of African-American
Ministers in our faith published in the book Black Pioneers in a White Denomination3, spoke of
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his deep personal need to be connected to African-American Unitarian Universalist history. He
wrote about this history in 1979 when he was preparing to enter the Unitarian Universalist Parish
Ministry, a time when there were only a handful of African-American ministers ever in the
history of Unitarian Universalism. He writes:
In the beginning my quest to learn about African-American Unitarian Universalist
ministers had been strictly personal – a pilgrimage driven by deep curiosity, a yearning
for wise counsel, a sense of self-preservation, and a need to pay my respects to those who
had preceded me. But my quest was propelled further by the need to write a thesis. 4
My own thesis is inspired by Morrison-Reed’s book, in truth the only widely available
published work that describes in detail the experience of a People of Color in Unitarian
Universalism, specifically the Black or African-American experience. It resonates with me at a
soul level, where the stories of our ancestors, their accomplishments and challenges serve to
guide and mentor our attitudes and behaviors in this life. Morrison-Reed’s effort to reclaim a
history nearly lost is profound. His book, sermons and writings, have been a powerful grounding
for the generation of People of Color who have come into the ministry since 1979 when it was
published. It is the only book mandated by the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee that
delves deep into the difficult history of a People of Color community within Unitarian
Universalism.
This thesis looks at the last 25 years of Unitarian Universalist history and asks “What has
been the experience of People of Color?” This question can be investigated from a number of
positions. I’ve chosen to focus on providing a narrative about the culture of Unitarian
Universalism and locating the social positions that People of Color occupy in the church. I have
also developed several historical timelines that examine the experience of People of Color within
various contexts. These points are intended to show the development of (1) racial ideas in the
predominately White UUA; (2) the fellowshipping of Ministers of Color; and (3) significant
events and people that are a large part of the cultural fabric of the People of Color community
today in Unitarian Universalism. Finally I offer research and an analysis that identifies some of
the key communities and projects that have sought to minister to Unitarian Universalist People of
Color over the last 25 years.
Presenting these experiences has not been an easy task, in part due to my desire to place
the experiences within their sociological context. This thesis contains an abundant reporting of
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events, names, dates, and acronyms that are brought together from the perspective of an insider
to Unitarian Universalism. While this is being written primarily for the benefit of other
Unitarian Universalists, later editions will seek to place this history in a broader societal and
cultural context. In order to help the reader along, consider the research and writing with the
following evolutionary description:
1) Personal hermeneutical introduction, methodology, terminology. (Chapters I, II, III)
2) Sociological contextualization. (Chapters IV, V, VI)
3) Historical narratives. (Chapters VII, VIII, IX)
4) Conclusion and Recommendations. (Chapter X)
We live in an era where increasingly, everything is documented. Yet there is very little
that tells the story of People of Color in Unitarian Universalism. This places us in an Orwellian
situation: “He who controls the past, controls the future; and he who controls the present,
controls the past.” Presently the record of our existence does not extend far beyond our mere
presence. The accomplishments, achievements, hopes and visions as Unitarian Universalists
within the faith are barely known and many are in jeopardy of being lost. My hope is that this
work will encourage others to investigate and collect the experiences and history of People of
Color within our liberal religious faith. May it also help all Unitarian Universalists be more
aware of the histories of People of Color in the church and may a stronger collective knowledge,
particularly among People of Color through organizations such as DRUUMM5 foster clarity in
vision, solidarity and action.
I encourage all people to take time to know their own histories starting with themselves
and their families of origin. We have excellent models of empowerment and ethical action as
Unitarian Universalists around gender, sexual orientation, accessibility and class consciousness.
Let us strengthen these justice efforts with the consistent work of studying race and racism in our
congregations and communities and build a model of linked oppressions and linked identities.
We need to remember our history as part of respecting our inherent worth and dignity. We need
to understand the experiences of People of Color within Unitarian Universalism if we are to
build religious covenants that honor the interdependent web of existence. May this work be but
a brush stroke of our collective painting of history, healing through education and consciousness,
and scaffolding for future historians.
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In order to ground my own perspective for the reader, I offer two short stories. The first
is my personal story of reawakening to the gifts and spiritual home of the faith after growing up
Unitarian Universalist in Oregon. The second is a story of an interaction with Rev. Dr. William
Jones, one of the few African-American ministers and long-time advocate for racial justice
within the UUA. My hope is that these stories will help articulate the confluence of the personal
and political that serves as a foundation for this thesis.
Personal Story
By the summer of 1997, I had found a backdoor into Unitarian Universalism after taking
leave of active involvement after high school. Throughout college I maintained a connection, to
my home congregation in Portland, Oregon, with friends I had made from my youth ministry
leadership, and with the congregation in Eugene, Oregon where I was going to college. Yet
there was a growing gap in my relationship with Unitarian Universalism. At the University of
Oregon I became deeply involved in the social, cultural, and political issues of Students of Color,
and by direct extension the larger surrounding Communities of Color. It was a period of intense
revelation in my life, culminating in some significant transformative events in my last years of
undergraduate study.
I had become very committed to the idea of building a multiracial community, and was
slowly learning the theories of racial justice, anti-racism, the linkage of oppressions, confronting
racism, institutional, cultural and systemic racism. When I was invited in 1996 to take on the
responsibility of moderator for the Continental Youth organization (Young Religious Unitarian
Universalists, or YRUU,) for their annual business meeting, I was honored but skeptical of
feeling at home in the community that had once been so meaningful for me. With my worldview
newly informed by my college education and experiences, I had already begun a careful and
detailed interrogation of my birth-faith of Unitarian Universalism. I had become wary of the
extreme Whiteness within the church, and the institutional and cultural racism therein. My
experience at the University of Oregon introduced my maturing self to racism of the White
liberal through my activism with Students of Color. Reflecting on my childhood in the church, I
concluded that I had gained little knowledge or insight about race relations. Given where I was
personally, Unitarian Universalism’s White guilt, tokenizing, and color-blind behaviors fueled
my growing disenchantment towards the church. Even so, attending the 1996 Continental Youth
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Council at Reed College was an honor and gave me a long moment to reflect on my own
religious and spiritual identity. At the conclusion of this I felt a renewed interest in our liberal
religious faith. I experienced serious questioning about racism within Unitarian Universalism
that inspired me, paralleling the questions I was asking as a Person of Color within the church.
At Youth Council I learned much about myself and came to look upon the virtue of Unitarian
Universalism with fresh eyes in part through the mandatory and daily Anti-Racism workshops.6
I was one of two or three People of Color at the event, and I was learning from a pair of cotrainers, a White seminarian and a Black minister from Boston.
In 1997, I agreed to attend the GA of UU Congregations in Phoenix, AZ. Attending
primarily as a representative of the UUA’s Young Adult Ministry Office, I had become an
engaged critic who was then asked to take on official responsibilities, (not necessarily in a coopted sense,) and I spent a good deal of time connecting with other People of Color. The Young
Adults had organized a Young Adults of Color Network in 1995 that I had been loosely aware
of, led by Kristen Harper (formerly Jewett), Danielle Gladd and Alyce Gowdy-Wright. All three
Black Women were amazing leaders, calling together people with vision and direction. I lent my
skills, primarily group organizing, and we organized several meetings during the GA.
On the last night, we organized an intergenerational People of Color gathering, and held
it in the large banquet hallway leading into the main hall where a dance was being held. This
was a popular time to be out and to be seen at GA. We used this location and time period to
identify and reach out to as many People of Color as we could. We made announcements,
handed out flyers, reminders on the bulletin board, and then staffed tables as the flow of several
thousand UUs passed us by. We gathered nearly four dozen folks together. Many lifelong
connections were made that evening, particularly between the younger and older generations of
People of Color.
For this paper, these experiences inform my perspective of the writer. I write as a
lifelong Unitarian Universalist committed to becoming a religious professional in the
Association, as a Person of Color of mixed Chinese and White descent, and as an engaged antiracism/anti-oppression activist. I pursue this thesis as an act against racism, by providing
documentation of the labors and accomplishments of People of Color within the UUA, and
surfacing the ways People of Color see themselves within the UUA and their aspirations for their
faith. I understand racism as racial prejudice and the misuse of power by systems and
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institutions7. I believe that all people are affected by racism, and that people have different but
interconnected powers to create a culture of liberty with anti-racist strategies.
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Story of Rev. Jones
One of the first elders I had the privilege of meeting was Rev. William Jones, a Unitarian
Universalist minister who served as the 10th African-American minister in our denomination. As
the music was starting up and folks were milling around amidst the sea of White UUs waiting for
an official start to our People of Color gathering, I offered Bill a seat and we introduced
ourselves. We got to talking about why we are UU, and my response started as it still does
today: I was born and raised UU. Bill, however, shared a difficult story, one which was personal
and political for him.
I was honestly a little confused as to why someone of his stature, a college professor,
renowned in Black Studies, who started the first Black Studies Department in Florida, had
chosen to become a UU minister and serve our congregations at this point in his life. I felt that if
I could understand this better I might be able to have a clearer vision for the possibility of a
multiracial Unitarian Universalist faith.
Bill recounted how while in college and soon thereafter, he began seeking a religious
home. He experienced discomfort with his spiritual practice and was open to a new religious
tradition. He recalled doing research, as he was prone to do,
examining the demographics of liberal faiths he was interested in.
Bill turned to Unitarian Universalism because of the
disproportionate power and privilege the faith had in the world.
Despite meager numbers in comparison to mainstream Protestant
choices, UUs were economically, politically and socially better off.
He wanted to make a change in the world and felt that religiously
he could be comfortable as a Unitarian Universalist.
Strategically—and it was a strategic decision by his own words—
being UU would give him incredible access to gatekeepers in key
private and public institutions across the world.
Rev. Dr. William Jones (credit:
This story grounded me as I was transitioning back into
Florida State University)
Unitarian Universalism. Emerging from four years of heavy
involvement with Communities of Color, however, I yearned for more. I had been disappointed
at how little Community of Color there is within Unitarian Universalism, and have intentionally
sought out stories like that of Rev. Jones and others in order to opportunities to learn pieces of
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this history. For many of the youth and young adults of Color that I’ve worked with as staff
member for the Unitarian Universalist Association, I sense a similar desire. On many levels it is
more profound as the younger People of Color lack a consistent connection to a larger
Community of Color. This thesis is in part, an effort to address the paucity of such stories and
connections. By standing witness to our living history, we call forth from the margins those
unmoored and silenced by this absence.
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Chapter II: Methodology and Frameworks
The research and writing in this thesis were guided by three methodologies. At the center
is a historical effort, attempting to record the history of People of Color through narratives and
public documentation. Personal interviews, reviews of original source documents, articles in the
UU World (formerly The World, the name changed to UU World in 2001) magazine, multiple
reports and letters collected from obvious and obscure locations, and a 2005 survey were
utilized. In establishing a context for this history, I employ a sociological method, studying the
origins, organization, and development of the community of Unitarian Universalists. This
exploration is notably limited, although there are several good, and recent, publications available
that discuss the denominational history since the merger of Unitarians and Universalists in 1961
with respect to racial concerns. I draw upon the work of Mark Morrison-Reed, who tells the
story of two Black Unitarian ministers pre-merger: Victor Carpenter, who in 2004 published
Long Challenge exploring in more depth the Empowerment Controversy that has since
dominated the psyche of the UUA with respect to race, and the detailed and comprehensive 1983
UUA Commission on Appraisal report probing the 1960s and 1970s racial justice endeavors of
the Association. Finally, in developing this history and sociological context, I utilize an antiracist analysis rooted in an understanding of power. This helps to reveal the dynamics of racism
that revolve around mattering and marginality, understanding the power of racism to shape our
personal, social and spiritual identities, and recognizing the need for accountability to
autonomous and empowered communities of People of Color.
Every work of history, according to Howard Zinn, is a political document.8 This paper
will undoubtedly be interpreted by many in a similar fashion. Within Unitarian Universalist
circles I want to acknowledge that I have begun to receive a reputation for my anti-racism work.
From growing up with a background of mixed races in an American society where White
supremacy dominates, to maturing as a racial justice activist through experiential and analysis
development with Crossroads Ministry and the People’s Institute, I clearly write with attention to
social and cultural change. For those readers who may be skeptical about People of Color
ministry in all its diversity, and of anti-racist/anti-oppressive multicultural identity and cultural
change as mandated by the 1997 Journey Towards Wholeness Resolution, I hope that this thesis
serves as a resource for you to better understand the experiences of Persons of Color in Unitarian
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Universalism. Through hearing and listening authentically to these experiences, perhaps we can
make more meaning in our common commitment to racial and cultural diversity, and to
nurturing welcoming congregations for all the people of the world. Ultimately anti-racism is
about accountability to the experiences of People of Color. This experience is dynamic, it is not
dogmatic or static, and we have to continually adapt and reinterpret our condition, analysis, and
strategy.
Framework 1: Jones’s Diagnosis Determines Therapy
Professor William Jones offers the following construct to remind us to pay attention to
the vibrant nature of race relations: Diagnosis Determines Therapy or DDT for short. This
maxim has been integrated into the anti-racism work of the UUA, and is important for us to
consider it with respect to the history of People of Color. Our history and the way it is both
reconstructed and understood are subject to the common analysis, or diagnosis, of the condition.
For this history to be of best use to Unitarian Universalism, I encourage us to deliberate on
developing clarity with respect to the circumstances of People of Color within Unitarian
Universalism. In later chapters, I will seek to discuss the culture, particularly Whiteness and
Racial Ideas, in order to explain this sufficiently.
Professor Jones, who served as minister in Providence, Rhode Island, before teaching at
Yale Divinity School and finally settling at Florida State University to found the Black Studies
Department, calls us to remain steady in our thinking and rethinking of the situation of People of
Color within Unitarian Universalism. We cannot ignore the changing forces of racism that have
allowed racism to persist and become so deeply embedded in our cultural way of life. Thus, it
behooves us not to imagine a single universal solution to the difficulties of race relations in our
church or in the world. Our reality, as it relates to race, culture and ethnicity, is affected by
virtually every event. For example, the way race was understood before September 11, 2001 and
how it was understood afterwards after cannot be considered fixed and invariable. Robette Dias,
a former Director of Religious Education in Santa Rosa, California, and the first UUA staff to
hold the portfolio of ministry to People of Color in the Faith in Action Department, provides an
excellent model for probing the complexity of race, particularly within the context of the United
States (but also potentially applicable to Canada).
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Framework 2: Dias’ Historical Development of Institutional Racism
Dias, who now works as Co-Executive Director of Crossroads Ministry, sees history
through the metaphor of the basket, with the diverse and seemingly disconnected actually being
strands that can be woven together to create a picture that provides us with clarity with respect to
our state of affairs. Combined with Jones’s “DDT,” we have an excellent strategy for ongoing
investigation of these issues, and further expansion of the history of People of Color in Unitarian
Universalism. It is a challenging task, however, piecing together the distinct histories in a way
that offers us a glimpse at a common diagnosis. Dias writes,
I was looking for the patterns, looking at events as circumstances, dissecting the words
and deeds of historic figures in an attempt to discern more broadly the social dynamics of
the time. You have to do this if the people you care most about are written out. But even
in the writing out or distortion of the stories, there is evidence of the truth. It wasn’t until
I learned to make baskets that the pattern I describe here became clear to me. Perhaps the
ordering of my mind as I thought about the basket I was working on, and dreamed about
the baskets I wanted to make, cleared the way for these thoughts to suddenly come
together in a whole new way for me to weave divergent strands together to form the
basket of history.
I gathered the frame for the basket while trying to make sense of why Blacks and Indians
are treated so differently in the United States. One drop for one group, blood quantum for
the other. While both dynamics are clearly motivated by racism it didn’t make sense the
different ways racism manifested in relationship to these groups. That’s when I
understood the power of colonialism and why colonialism has to be part of any discourse
on racism. It wasn’t until I really understood the US as an apartheid nation in the 1960s
that I could gather the divergent strands together that would eventually create the bottom
and sides of the basket. I had to hear the stories of each racial group and both hear and
experience the current realities for people in each racialized POC group before I could
complete the basket. September 11 and the aftermath helped a lot. The crisis removed the
veils of political correctness and allowed hateful racist rhetoric (especially toward Arabs
and people of the “Middle East”) to resurface in the mainstream discourse.
Then I realized how very deeply the pattern was engraved in our society and how it had
operated throughout the history of the US and continued to this day. This emphasized for
me the importance of looking at history through the lenses of colonialism and apartheid
as keys to understand both history and current world events. This article is intended to
reveal some of the patterns I have witnessed and to identify the legacy they bring to our
lives today.9
Dias, who is a lead trainer around institutional anti-racism/multicultural transformation
work, shares this framework for discerning the progress within institutions that have perpetuated
racism in our society. The examples she provides and the connecting ideas are useful as we next
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discuss the term People of Color. Keep in mind that while the examples detailed below pertain
to historical affairs outside Unitarian Universalism, we need to remember the powerful position
individual Unitarian Universalists have had in the creation of the United States, as well as the
real presence Unitarian and Universalist churches have had on the proverbial “public square”
traditionally.
The table below, developed by Dias, is provided without alteration. It provides an
accounting of the major racial groups present within the United States, along with Dias’s own
analysis and language describing their condition as created and enforced by White institutions.
In addition to describing the fundamental strategies for the dehumanization, or objectifying, of
People of Color, Dias provides evidence showing the interconnection of diverse racial minorities
through unique, yet similar experiences of racial oppression, within the American system of
institutions. We Unitarian Universalists cannot ignore the social realities around us as well as
our active and/or passive complicity in the exploitation of People of Color. Dias’ analysis
demonstrates the power of institutions to shape identity, perpetuate stereotypes, and categorically
maintain a system of privilege and marginalization which impacts our daily lives within
congregations and beyond. Based upon Dias’s framework and Jones’s theory of the dynamic
nature of oppression, this paper seeks to document and evaluate the need to perpetually review
and amend our analysis to address the conditions and facts of reality.
Unitarian Universalism is interconnected to social and cultural realities of the world. In
fact we have a unique bond, given our theology and practice, calling us to live out our values in
creating the world we pray for here and now. Without a creedal belief in heaven or hell, we
focus our attention on this world, and salvation in this life. We have a powerful history of social
engagement on behalf of social justice, and we have much experience to build upon. We also
have a responsibility to learn from these experiences, particularly in areas where we have
struggled so substantially. With respect to race and racism, Dias helps remind the UUA that
these issues cannot be only addressed through the lens of individualism. To do so ignores the
obvious truths of institutional and systemic missions, purposes, functions and responsibilities in
creating and maintaining White power and privilege culturally in our world. Concentrating on
institutional anti-racism transformation is not as simple as educating an individual; it necessitates
more acutely addressing authority and control, which are hallmarks of preserving the status quo
of supremacy. When we touch the issue of institutions, we touch the layers of organizations that
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respond most slowly, and most sensitively to change, and thus we need patience. Jones’s theory
is the gentle reminder that our long commitments and glimpses of astonishing anti-racist
institutional transformation will not be static nor satisfactory for lasting racial and social justice.
Indeed, we need to prepare ourselves for great success, to honor and remember success, but to
never forget the adapting nature and conditions that support racism in Unitarian Universalism,
White racism. To disregard Jones’s thinking is to struggle unsustainably towards justice. The
experiences, histories, and stories shared here are part of the continually assembling building
blocks towards racial justice in Unitarian Universalism.
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Historical Development of Institutional Racism Chart
(R. Dias)
Racial
Group &
Ideology
Racial-Economic
Strategy
Examples of Legally
Mandated Racism and
Apartheid
Examples of Changing
Laws
Examples of Self-Perpetuating
Racism
African
Americans
Dehumanize the people to
create a large pool of free
and cheap labor that can
also be used to manipulate
and control poor white
workers as well





Naturalization Act of 1790
One Drop Rule
3/5 Doctrine
Dred Scott Decision
Slave Codes esp.
punishment
 Plessy v Ferguson
 Jim Crow Laws




Civil Rights Act of 1866
13th and 14th Amendments
Naturalization Act of 1870
Brown v Board of
Education
 Civil Rights Act of 1964
 Affirmative Action





Dehumanize the people to
acquire and control their
natural resources in order to
prevent those resources
from being used to invade
and conquer free,
democratic, Christian
society







 Immigration and
Nationality Act of 1952
 Immigration and
Nationality Act
Amendments of 1965
 Registration, detainment,
deportation and expatriation
 Guantanamo Bay detentions
 Post Sept 11 rhetoric
 War on Terror
 War on Iraq
 US war economy
Dehumanize the people to
keep them outside the
protection of the
Constitution in order to
exploit their labor and
prevent them from
acquiring property and
resources
 Naturalization Act of 1790
 Naturalization Act of 1870
 Chinese Exclusion Act
1882
 Immigration Act of 1917
 Immigration Act of 1924
 Takao Ozawa v US
 US v Bhagat Singh Thind
 Tydings-McDuffie Act
1934
 Executive Order 9066
 Naturalization Act of 1790
 Spanish American War
 Braceros program
 Repatriation campaigns
like Operation Wetback
 Downes v Bidwell
 Literacy Laws
 Covert CIA operations
 Immigration and
Nationality Act of 1952
 Immigration and
Nationality Act
Amendments of 1965
 Reparations for internment
 Immigration and Nationality Act
of 1952
 Vietnam War
 Hate Crimes
 Vincent Chin
 Wen Ho Lee
 Students excluded from
affirmative action
 Model minority myth





Nationality Act of 1940
Mexican Worker Amnesty
Farm labor reform
Bilingual education
Navy leaving Vieques
 Immigration and Nationality Act
of 1952
 Puerto Rican Diaspora and “brain
drain”
 Proposition 187 in California
 English only
 NAFTA







 Nationality Act of 1940
 Indian Reorganization Act
 American Indian Religious
Freedom Act
 American Indian Child
Welfare Act
 Repatriation
 Blood Quantum & invisibility
 IRA and Claims Commission
 American Indian Civil Rights Act
of 1968
 Lyng v NW Cemetery Protection
Association
 BIA “trust” case
Social and
intellectual
inferiors
Arab
Americans
Marauding
invaders
Asian
Americans
Perpetual
foreigners
Latina/os
Mestizos
tainted by
African and
Indian
inferiority
Native
Americans
Vanishing
savages
Dehumanize the people to
maintain the Spanish
colonial model in which
social, political and
economic elites are coopted to participate in the
exploitation of the masses
and particularly the most
vulnerable of their own
racial/ethnic group
Dehumanize the people in
order to commit genocide
and take possession of the
land and exploit the
resources
Reconquista and Crusades
Naturalization Act of 1790
Immigration Act of 1924
Ex parte Shalid,, also Dow
In re Feroz Din
In re Ahmed Hassan
Covert CIA operations
Naturalization Act of 1790
Naturalization Act of 1870
Indian Wars
Treaty breaking
Removal and reservations
Allotment Act of 1887
Termination
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De facto housing segregation
Unequal school funding
Urban renewal
Lack of employment opportunities
Unequal sentencing laws
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Chapter III: Terms and Scope
This chapter seeks to define in more detail the historical scope of this study, and discuss
and determine as best as possible the meaning of the term “People of Color.” In establishing the
scope of this paper, some informed, yet ultimately arbitrary, decisions had to be made in setting
the historical boundaries. In my attempt at explaining why 1980-2005 as a period is important to
explore, it is my hope that others will take up the call of searching for truth and meaning in other
periods, both brief and long in annals of Unitarianism, Universalism and Unitarian Universalism.
The discussion of the development and usage of the term “People of Color” is an uneasy one at
best. While there are some sectors of our society, both Western and internationally, that
universally employ the term with a common understanding, there is clearly an unfinished debate
within the UUA. Questions about the descriptive and political nature of the term persist, with the
only consensus being its conditional nature. Understanding the conditions of how the term has
developed, is utilized, and lives in various contexts helps us recognize the complexity of the term
while at the same time not abandoning its use out of simple frustration at the lack of absolute
definition.
1980-2005
The era of 1980 to 2005 was chosen primarily thanks to the work
of the only Person of Color who has been identified as a historian of a
People of Color experience within Unitarian Universalism.10 Rev. Dr.
Mark Morrison-Reed, recently retired co-minister of the First Unitarian
Church of Toronto, published his Meadville-Lombard doctoral thesis
entitled Black Pioneers in a White Denomination11, in 1979, revealing for
the first time in comprehensive form stories of persons of African
descent/African-Americans/Black Americans in Unitarian Universalism.
The book focused on the experience of two ministers, Rev. Egbert Ethelred Brown (1875-1956)
and Rev. Lewis McGee (1893-1979), and their struggle with racial discrimination in the
American Unitarian Association. Egbert Ethelred Brown, founder of the first Unitarian Church
in Harlem, and Lewis A. McGee, who started the Interracial Free Religious Fellowship in
Chicago’s black ghetto, struggled to shape their liberal religious faith in a racist, White
denomination. Morrison-Reed’s book is a bright benchmark in the scholarship widely available
to Unitarian Universalists and the world. As essentially the only existing published work that
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provides a window into the experience of “Persons of Color” in Unitarian Universalism, it is a
beginning, an example and a calling to those seeking knowledge in this area. It is the only book
written by a Unitarian Universalist “Person of Color” about “Persons of Color,” making it a
unique, primary resource.
Morrison-Reed provides us with a glimpse of the struggles of Black clergy within
Unitarian Universalism in the 20th century. His work is influential, as it is the only book required
of seminarians that relates critically to the lives of People of Color in Unitarian Universalism.12
Interestingly, he is perhaps the only Unitarian Universalist who identifies as a historian of the
experience of People of Color in Unitarian Universalism, predominantly the African-American
or Black experience. His voice has been undoubtedly lonely since Black Pioneers was first
published in 1980. Since then, Morrison-Reed remains a consistent reporter for Unitarian
Universalists of Color, but as a single voice, there is only so much he can reasonably accomplish
while also serving one of our largest congregations in Canada. Morrison-Reed as a historian has
given us a beginning, has opened doors through which I pray many more will enter. It is
important to note that in interviews with Morrison-Reed, I have learned that he is continuing his
research and is contributing to the new Unitarian Universalist People of Color Archive at
Meadville-Lombard established by Rev. Dr. Michelle Bentley.
I selected 1980 as a beginning point to not only draw attention to Morrison-Reed’s work
twenty-five years later, but because I wanted to begin to outline, with complexity, the history that
has proceeded since Black Pioneers sought to call Unitarian Universalists again to more
authentic racial and cultural diversity. Neither Morrison-Reed nor my work here should be
considered universal however. Furthermore my work, although seeking to be inclusive, is more
plainly likened to an effort to paint the edges of an iceberg. Twenty-five years is a generation of
time that overlaps roughly with other significant eras in the UUA. Personally it is the generation
I grew up in, as I was age 7 in 1980 and a child in the West Hills Unitarian Fellowship religious
education program. Institutionally, 1980 was nearly 20 years after the merger of the Universalist
Church of America and the American Unitarian Association.13 In 1980 Liberal Religious Youth
was becoming Young Religious Unitarian Universalists, and the Women in Religion and GayLesbian efforts were gaining traction and strength influencing the culture of our community and
theology to the congregational core. The UUA Principles and Purposes had yet to be
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established, and there were less than a dozen ordained People of Color active in Unitarian
Universalist ministry.
The last 25 years have also seen several broader cultural transformations, rapid
technological advancements, declining economic security, mass media and communications, and
the world geopolitical changes of the 1990s. Information is becoming a commodity and
multiracial relations continue to grow and change the dominant White/European culture we live
in. Communities of Color in North American are contributing heavily to popular culture, even
though segregation has been sustained and some would argue is even increasing beyond the
levels of 1958, when Brown vs. Board of Education criminalized intentional institutional
segregationist policies14. The emergence of the internet has improved access to information,
creating a virtual world forum of topics previously unexplored. The generation born today (in
2005) will have a significantly different childhood than my generation (born in 1973). Gross and
growing economic disparities are profound, oppressing the many for the pleasure of the
uppermost classes, while at the same time adapting Borg15style in resisting calls for racial justice
and equality. The idea alone of what race and racism mean in our society has revolutionized new
progressive and reactionary conservative thought yet the mainstream fail to be inspired,
motivated or committed to engage in the exercise of tackling race prejudice and White
supremacist power. Daily we are reminded of this in the use of language and imagery in mass
media, the economic disparities among People of Color, and continued violence, particularly
racially motivated hate crimes,16 against People of Color.
We are a culture that understands ourselves in terms of generations, and within the UUA
there are several important generational distinctions to recognize that are useful here. First is
that it has been almost 50 years since the merger of the Unitarians and Universalists, with the
generation of laity and religious professionals that were active pre-merger are entering the ranks
of elders and are entering their last stages of life. The generation of laity and religious
professionals who came of age immediately post-merger, many of whom were significantly
touched by the civil rights era and work of the UUA in this regard, are mostly retired today.
Finally, the post-merger generation is coming of age having been raised more intentionally as
Unitarian Universalists, a faith identity still relatively new in form and function, without the
same historical and theological grounding of their more religious, Christian, forbearers.
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People of Color Terminology
“People of Color” is a term that has come into widespread use over the last decade.
With no apparent roots with respect to the common parlance of today, it has been used
historically to identify multiracial persons, particularly of African descent. In French New
Orleans as early as the 18th century there were groups, including a battalion in the War of 1812,
which organized as “Free People of Color.”17 The idea of identity based on color can be directly
connected to the racism and identity of European-Whites, predominately in North America, who
have a long record of passionate fixation over color and people. Over time the meaning of the
term has changed significantly, and nowadays the term is generally used to identify those
persons who have been racially, culturally, ethnically, and economically oppressed. For all
intents and purposes, this has meant broadly persons of Latino/a, Native American/Indigenous,
African, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Arab/Middle Eastern descent, in part or wholly.
The Western States Center, a progressive training and organizing institute based in
Portland, Oregon, offers this description of the term People of Color:
People of Color is not a term that refers to a real biological or scientific distinction
between people. People of Color in the United States share the common experience of
being targeted and oppressed by racism. Unfortunately, one of the ways racism operates
is to keep People of Color divided. Many people only think about their specific ethnic or
racial group when discussing oppression or the need to build political power. By using
the term People of Color, we begin to push people to think more broadly. We need to
build relationships with other groups of color. The term People of Color has movement
building potential.18
For the purposes of this paper, and being careful not to inflate the definition to claim
those who would not identify as People of Color, I ground my meaning in the political solidarity
analysis of Western States Center and the following principle established by DRUUMM when it
was solely a group for religious professionals of Color in 1998-2000:
The United States is a race-based society made up of a dominant White group and several
other racially defined groups which have been and continue to be oppressed in specific
ways. While race is a social construct created by the dominant White group to oppress
and exclude the other groups from the power and resources of the society, race has also
been used by oppressed peoples to build group solidarity and a culture of survival and
resistance.
Racism has also created barriers which separate oppressed groups from one another.
While each oppressed group is affected by racism differently and each group maintains
its own unique identity and culture, there is also the recognition that racism has the
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potential to unite oppressed people in a collective of resistance. For this reason, many
individuals who identify as members of racially oppressed groups also claim the political
identity of being People of Color. This in no way diminishes their specific cultural or
racial identity; rather it is an affirmation of the multiple layers of identity of every
individual. 19
Crossroads Ministry, an interfaith antiracism ministry in the USA which has worked
extensively with the UUA to address institutional and cultural racism, offers this perspective on
racial identity in America:
Racial identity in the United States is not shaped in a neutral environment. The identities
of People of Color form in response to racial oppression, and the identities of Whites
form in response to racial superiority. These two identity dynamics manifest in a complex
range of attitudes and behaviors that support and perpetuate the racist paradigm in this
country. In order to work together to dismantle individual, institutional, and cultural
racism, People of Color and Whites must understand how these identity dynamics operate
in specific institutional settings, and devise strategies to overcome the barriers and
oppression created by them20.
The complexities and multiplicities of experience with respect to race, ethnicity and the
cultures we claim make any effort to establish a consensus language around racial/cultural/ethnic
identity problematic. Building on Jones’s analysis discussed earlier, and Dias’s framework of
institutional racism, both see People of Color becoming a natural movement building term.
Unitarian Universalists of African, Asian/Pacific Islander, Arab/Middle Eastern, Latino/a, and
Middle Eastern/Arab descent over the last 25 years have been at the forefront of Association
efforts to study and act for social, political, and economic justice. While not all have agreed on
the terminology of People of Color, this term is commonly used within the public witness of the
UUA, and it has seen an increasing usage institutionally in response to advocacy by racial
minorities. In this context, it is reasonable and accountable to utilize the term, while recognizing
the inevitable limitations that come with any attempt to identify universally any group subject to
oppression.
In the UUA, People of Color have endured in essentially liminal space that is situated at
the sensory threshold and barely perceptible historically by White Unitarian Universalists. We
People of Color, are wise to explore our diverse experiences in shared space. We have been
patient in learning to relate authentically with one another, and generous in our willingness to
forgive mistakes and affirm the efforts of ministering and organizing for a faith community that
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welcomes all people. It is also important to appreciate the enormous potential of White
Unitarian Universalists with respect to nurturing and sharing space for People of Color ministry.
In truth, we need each other as we tell these histories and collectively act upon the stories we
share.
The UUA continues to struggle however with People of Color and has made a significant
modification internally by adding “Latino/a”. People of Color/Latino/a has now become the
standard phrase articulated by the UUA administration and programs, coming initially from the
newly formed Identity Based Ministries (IdBM) Staff Group in 2002 the year the Faith in Action
Department was dismantled. IdBM, led by Taquiena Boston, a former Faith in Action staff
member, launched a Latino/a Concerns portfolio (initially led by Marta Valentin), which was
conceived of separately from the broader People of Color community. Both the change in
language and the establishment of new staff services took many People of Color by surprise.21
This surprise was also mixed with frustration given the vacancy of the People of Color ministry
portfolio that had been carefully and sensitively developed just a few years earlier.
A small group of Latino/a ministers, Rev. Patricia Jimenez, Rev. Lilia Cuervo, Rev. Jose
Ballester and Rev. Peter Morales advocated for the change in language to the UUA
administration after the election of Rev. William Sinkford, an African-American and one of the
founding members of DRUUMM. The attention to inclusiveness with language is important to
celebrate, although the failure to engage the larger People of Color community needs to be taken
as a lesson in accountability. Misunderstanding and confusion as to the purpose of these
changes, coupled with the continued presence of Latino/as within DRUUMM who identify as
People of Color, continues to be a source of tension in the UUA.
Latino/as within DRUUMM have acknowledged the intense racism within the Latino/a
community and the unique combination of Spanish colonialism and White supremacy that has
shaped Latino/a identity. It has been said to foster a profound internalization of racial
inferiority/superiority that separates Latino/as from one another22. The need for collective
discussion and defining of language would be helpful here, which has happened occasionally and
with great passion at DRUUMM, the Latino/a UU Networking Association (LUUNA) and the
DRUUMM Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus, yet still remains tender and uncomfortable within the
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UUA. Some of these discussions, specifically among religious professionals, have produced
potential language that would begin a reconciliation and clearer common analysis. There has not
however been satisfactory follow through and presently disharmony remains.23
The rejection of the term People of Color by some Latino/as also reminds us of the
fallacy of biology of race, and how it was perpetuated scientifically, politically, economically,
socially and culturally disproportionately by White-European Americans for hundreds of years.
We ignore the impact of race, interconnected with ethnicity and culture, at our own peril; history
and experience clearly tell us that they are linked. To operate out of this paradigm not only
provides ammunition to Whites who have no stake or empathy for the racial justice sought by
People of Color in the UUA, but has the real potential of confusing and poorly educating the next
generation of children who are increasingly multiracial and multicultural. These children,
especially children of color, have a right to be educated about the realities of race and racism
within their communities.
I have come to understand the identity of a “Person of Color” through the following
construction:
(1) Self-identify as, in part or whole, with one or more racial/ethnic groups that are not of
European/White descent. Persons may well identify strongly with their European/White descent
heritage, but must also identify with a non-European/White minority. (I personally don't like the
term "minority" or being non-anything.)
(2) Seen as, in part or whole, a Person of Color by society. This extends beyond the shallowness
of skin color, to being connected to cultural practices, language, shared resistance against
oppression, active solidarity with other Persons of Color, and consciousness in our vocabulary
about the effect of White Privilege and White Supremacy on Communities of Color.
(3) Live as, in part or whole, a Person of Color in the larger world. This also extends beyond skin
tones to our own choices related to strengthening ourselves against White Supremacy, supporting
other Persons of Color in need, and being in relationships of accountability with Communities of
Color, both specific to our racial/cultural heritage and wider efforts to unite disparate Peoples of
Color.
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Finally, People of Color identity within Unitarian Universalism is closely tied to an
analysis of anti-racism, in which a part of the strategy includes accountability to a larger
community of Unitarian Universalist People of Color. The experiences of racism in our world
have shaped the resistance and powerful cultures of survival in the face of violent and coercive
assimilation and wholesale genocide. This history, understood with a vision for racial justice and
equality for all, is a part of all of us as individuals. For those of us who feel detached or free
from such history, we may be reminded daily of the racial disparity and divide through the social
indicators of class, education, health care, hate crimes, employment and representation in
government.
This chapter sought to problematize both the chronological scope and the terminology of
People of Color to give the reader a more in-depth perspective of the considerations of the
author, and to provide a glimpse of the complexities of the use of “People of Color” within
Unitarian Universalism. There is no absolutism here with respect to terminology, only an
intentional, positive, and movement building purpose that is the heritage of the use of People of
Color. In the next chapter, we will explore more about the meaning and usage of People of
Color language in our modern era, drawing upon the voices from the 2005 Survey of Unitarian
Universalist People of Color, and we will continue to examine the history and experience of
People of Color with the methodologies and frameworks discussed thus far. .
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Chapter IV: Survey of Unitarian Universalist People of Color
In the fall of 2005 a short survey was developed and distributed to 300 Unitarian
Universalist People of Color, exclusively through email list-serves and an internet website. In
addition, the announcement of the survey was carried to many White UUs, who were asked to
communicate the existence to any People of Color in their congregations. The survey received
91 responses in the 3 month timeframe provided. There were 16 questions, including several
identifying characteristics. The survey was approved by Harvard Committee on Human Subject
Research, and the questions were developed by me with support from my thesis advisor,
Professor Wallace Best. People of Color was used in the title, but not defined in anyway. There
were no instructions, only this brief statement of purpose: The main goal of this survey is to
understand the attitudes, hopes and concerns of Unitarian Universalist Persons of Color. The
responses will be used for a Senior Thesis on “A 25 Year History of People of Color in
Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005.” The survey is in the appendix in full form.
The racial/cultural diversity reporting allowed respondents to name their own identities
without categories. In order to gain insight into the diversity within Unitarian Universalism, the
responses were grouped according to the traditional communities that have organized in the faith.
Thus, the following table represents the percentage of respondents who identified their
‘racial/cultural identity and heritage as ___’, including multiracial persons.
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Racial/Cultural Identity
African descent
Asian/Pacific Islander
Latino/a/Hispanic of
Color
Native/Indigenous
descent
Iranian/Middle
Eastern
52.75%
32.97%
9.89%
5.49%
1.10%
Several things to take into consideration when trying to interpret these numbers. First is
the longer term presence of persons of African descent in the UUA, in part documented by Black
Pioneers, who were a part of our religious professionals and laity even before the American Civil
Rights era. This community of color has achieved prominence at the denominational and
congregational level thanks to their collective advocacy, organizing, and UUA financial support.
Of particular significance were local congregational efforts at establishing Black Unitarian
Universalist Caucuses in the 1960s and 1970s, and the 1985 GA Resolution calling on
congregations to establish local “Black Concerns” groups24. These efforts coupled with the
steady, although slight presence of African descent Ministers, Religious Educators and UUA
denominational staff may help us understand the majority presence of African descent responses
to the survey. Compared to the U.S. Census of 2000 however, this number is disproportionate
where Latino/as and African-American/Blacks constitute roughly equal numbers.
The second historical detail to consider is the recent history, (since 1995,) when Latino/as
organized into LUUNA (Latino/a UU Networking Association), and 1998 when Asian/Pacific
Islanders began to network and ultimately founded the Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus of
DRUUMM in 2002 (A/PIC). The small Latino/a identification may relate to the relatively
dormant status of LUUNA over the last three years outside of an annual meeting at GA, and the
lack of any known website, email list-serve or organizational leadership publicly listed. The
Asian/Pacific Islander presence, on the other hand, needs to be understood in the context of a fast
growing and highly organized DRUUMM A/PIC that maintains an active internet presence and
reaches out through newsletters and an annual conference for members of local congregations.
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The results of this question also provide us with an understanding of those who claimed
to be mixed race, i.e. claiming more than one racial/cultural identity, and those who chose not to
identify in any way racially/culturally.
Mixed Race
Unreported
23.08%
2.20%
The growing recognition of mixed race/multiracial identity has been lifted up historically
by LUUNA and the African-American Unitarian Universalist Ministry (AAUUM). At GA in
2005, People of Color who identified as multiracial organized a new DRUUMM Caucus,
“MultiRac.”25 The small fraction of survey respondents who did not report any racial/cultural
identity may be viewed with some skepticism as the number is likely higher in congregations due
to the dominating presence of Whites and the subsequent pressure of non-Whites to assimilate or
ignore racial/cultural heritage in order to sustain membership. Furthermore, the survey clearly
stated People of Color, with an explicit racial/cultural connotation, and thus persons who may
identify as having a heritage other than White-European—i.e. other racial and cultural minorities
traditionally underrepresented and/or historically marginalized in North America—may have
chosen to remain silent. Lastly, there is a feeling among some of the older generation of People
of Color who were present during the UUA efforts around antiracism in the 1960s and 1970s that
the UUA never fulfilled racial justice commitments promised public, and while remaining in our
congregations, some of these people have since become silent on issues of race and racism.26
Other demographic data of the survey showed good representation beyond the
denominationally active persons. Surprisingly welcome was the overwhelming majority who
reported being a member of a UU congregation. The gender breakdown may be further
considered by the generally higher involvement rates of women in lay leadership and as religious
professionals (both ministers and religious educators for example). Overall, this survey
exceeded expectations in eliciting a balanced response and is thus potentially quite useful in
valuing the interpretation of response.
Member of a UU Congregation
Yes
No
87.91%
12.09%
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Geographic Origin
North
South
Southwest
Northeast
Midwest
Northwest
International
None of the Above
20.88%
18.68%
16.48%
12.09%
9.89%
7.69%
7.69%
6.59%
Gender
Women
Men
Transgender
62.64%
36.26%
1.10%
UUA Denominational Involvement
Not Involved At All
Very Involved
Somewhat Involved
Limited Involvement
29.67%
26.37%
24.18%
19.78%
Attended a People of Color Event
Yes
No
Not Sure
63.74%
34.07%
2.20%
Age
Over 50
36 to 50
26-35
Under 25
38.46%
30.77%
20.88%
9.89%
Returning to the discourse on the term People of Color, those surveyed overwhelmingly
saw the term as a neutral expression descriptive of their racial/cultural identity. Of the 90% who
raised no objection to the term, or associated it with persons of African descent, 2/3 described
“People of Color” with apolitical language, i.e. having no socio-political relevance or
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importance, that often manifested as “Non-White”. Unfortunately the survey did not ask if
respondents would themselves identify with the term People of Color. Given that the question
was designed to elicit an impartial response without any prompting, the survey results may be
considered less biased than if the question was asked with a definition of the term provided.
With this in mind, the responses that defined People of Color in more comprehensive and
complicated ways, such as directly linking People of Color to a power and political analysis, or
seeing it as derogatory, potentially are a greater reflection of an individual’s actual belief. A
useful consideration for follow-up would be to ask what ideas people would associate with the
term and provide a list of contemporary meanings in order to reveal a more nuanced view and
practice.
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Meaning of “People of Color”
Non-White and/or Apolitical Neutral 58.24%
Political/Empowering/AntiOppressive
31.87%
Oppositional/Derogatory/Meaningless 6.59%
Being of African descent
3.30%
Selected Responses – Racial/Cultural self-identity in brackets afterward
Non-White and/or Apolitical Neutral (58.24%):
A majority of respondents provided short answers that made no overt political, movement
building associations. In the context of the earlier discussion of the term “People of Color,” this
data shows that most Unitarian Universalists, at least when questioned simply about the meaning
of the term to them, do not demonstrate a sense of political significance to their own
circumstance. In contrast to other answers, which provided responses that showed both political
consciousness as well as an understanding of the interconnection of “People of Color,” these
answers present themselves in more bare conceptual terms. Examples include:
“A person of non-European descent, including persons of African, Asian, Latino, or
Indigenous descent.” [multiple responses]
“Any non-white person.” [multiple responses]
“It refers to an individual residing within the US who is regarded as being racially/
ethnically/culturally different. I am not sure the extent to which other countries use this
term. There is a growing respect in several other first world countries for First Nations
people—sadly not in the US. I do not think these individuals are referred to as persons of
color.” [Asian/Pacific Islander descent]
Political/Empowering/Anti-Oppressive (31.87%):
These answers match most closely with the development of the term “People of Color”
discussed earlier in Chapter III. The understandings articulated here show a definite political
consciousness involving an analysis of racism, power, and oppression in general. Language
around dominance, colonialism, and superiority, historical and contemporary elements of racism,
as well as resistance and solidarity and elements of anti-racism theory and theology are present.
These responses are in harmony with the mission and purpose of DRUUMM, although an
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analysis of how many of these respondents are DRUUMM members is not available. Sample
responses:
“People of Color is a political term to me, used to identify many different racial and
ethnic groups bound by similar political circumstances.” [Asian/Pacific Islander descent]
“People of Color is a term of racialized resistance. It’s a term adopted by racially
oppressed peoples to bind us together in order to resist the divide and conquer the
paradigm that characterizes are our lives and our collective relationship to White people,
as the dominant racial group in the US.” [Native descent]
“It is an umbrella term intended to both identify the common experiences of brownskinned people in a white world and, also, it is a way to build a sense of solidarity around
those experiences across ethnic lines.” [African descent]
“When I speak of “People of Color” in the anti-racism community, I mean people who
are descended from any of the indigenous people of Asia, America, Africa, Australia,
Pacific Islands, and people from the Middle East. I include people who are multiracial as
“People of Color”. I understand, however, that most of these people have never heard of
the designation.” [Latino/a descent]
“It is both a personal and political identity. It brings a name to my personal experience,
without having to walk around ‘bleeding’ for folks, and it is a comment on my political
analysis of the system of oppression. It also implies personal and political commitment
to an engaged resistance around issues of oppression rooted in my experience of racism.”
[Arab/Middle Eastern descent]
Oppositional/Derogatory/Meaningless (6.59%):
These responses, coming from only a few respondents, showed a personal disapproval of
the term. Responses did not make claims as to the use of the term more broadly in community as
those who identified it in a political or movement-building sense sought to convey. Instead,
these respondents commented that they personally would not employ the term to describe
themselves because it had a neutral to negative meaning. Examples include:
“Honestly I would have to say ‘Person of Color’ is extremely rude when referring to
anyone. Yes there may be differences in the way different cultures raise their families,
but to make a statement regarding People of Color just sounds politically incorrect. I
would be offended if say a Teenager on up to an adult would say this, but maybe a
smaller child would probably not upset me as much.” [Latino/a descent]
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“I don’t find the term meaningful. It lumps together groups of people who don’t
necessarily relate to one another or have the same interests. In addition, some use the
term when they really mean ‘African-American.’ [African descent]
“It’s a label of self-identification; it talks about skin colour and/or race and includes
elements of culture. It carries connotations of minority, of political correctness, and
sometimes of self-righteousness…and it’s difficult to use in conversation.” [Asian/Pacific
Islander descent]
Being of African Descent (3.30%):
These three respondents believed the term to mean of African descent. As discussed in
Chapter III, this has been a point of contention for several Latinos in the UUA, although this data
demonstrates the nominal extent to which this impression is held. Furthermore, it is not a trend
building with the younger generation, as all who responded this way were over the age of 35.
Example statements:
“Person(s) of African descent.” [Asian/Pacific Islander descent]
“Personally, that I'm black. It identifies who I am.” [African descent]
Non-White and/or Apolitical
Political/Empowering/Anti-Oppressive
Oppositional/Derogatory/Meaningless
Being of African descent
Under
35
46.43%
46.43%
7.14%
0.00%
Over 35
65.08%
25.40%
4.76%
4.76%
There was a clear generational gap among these results, with an equal numbers of under 35
year olds (46.43% each) understanding People of Color in political or apolitical/neutral terms
whereas in the older generation by nearly two to one, the term was described as
apolitical/neutral. This difference is less significant with the other data, although it is worth
noting that only the older generation considered being of African descent as critical to People of
Color. As discussed earlier, Latino/as in their discomfort with the usage of “People of Color”
may be challenging the idea of the African descent experience as normative to the construct of
People of Color. The objections have come exclusively from the older generation of Latino/as
who naturally may be reacting to the generational understanding of their peers of other
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racial/cultural identities. Rev. Jose Ballester of the UU Ministers Association Hispanic Ministry
Caucus, a founder of LUUNA, and a current member of the UUA Board of Trustees, has raised
this concern. He points out the recurring conflation, and the difficultly this poses for Latino/a
inclusion when African descent issues are considered paramount in real or imaginary ways. It is
important to note however that DRUUMM, and the People of Color mission, were developed
intentionally with Latino/a leadership, including a group of Latino/a ministers who have now
separated from DRUUMM. Lastly, one Latino remaining or former DRUUMM member has
suggested another component of the confrontation around “People of Color” in the older
generation is linked to the complexities of color and racism within specifically Latino heritages.
White privilege developed in Latino/a communities through a different type of colonialism that
sought to intermix yet maintain strict racial hierarchies based on White supremacist ideology. 27
The data has affected my opinion of the general usage and intention of the phrase, moving
me to believe that despite the age gap and political consciousness of the younger generations
around the term “People of Color,” the term needs further education and discussion within the
UUA if it is to be employed appropriately. While there appears to be little active resistance to
the term institutionally and personally, continuing to understand “People of Color” in an antiracism context will be important for the UUA. “People of Color” is now utilized not only by the
UUA but across the spectrum of society, in government, business, education, non-profit and
media/entertainment sectors. The term is used to describe, set policy, and communicate
intentionally. For example, it is utilized in job announcements, in census data, referred to in the
media, organized around in academia, and is regularly a concern of social justice and non-profit
organizations. In the health sector, an understanding of race and ethnicity has important medical
and well-being implications. Research continues to demonstrate that a strict colorblind
application in medical treatment has the real potential of promoting incorrect diagnosis and
treatment, and preventative and lifestyle measures inappropriately prescribed may also be flawed
and even dangerous. For example, persons of Asian descent have lactose intolerance rates
approaching 100% and persons of African descent at rates of nearly 90%, whereas persons of
European descent (White), have relatively low rates at 20-25%.28
This data provides a useful look at the diversity and representation of the People of Color
surveyed, as well as some specific information with respect to the term “People of Color”
discussed in Chapter III. The good demographic diversity, in terms of geography, age,
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denominational involvement, and racial identity increases the relevance and accuracy of the
overall assessments endeavored here. The results also provide us with an awareness of some of
the gaps present, such as the disproportionately smaller participation of men and youth.
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Chapter V: Whiteness of Unitarian Universalism
UUs are white and dominated by white styles of life. People of color, in leadership
positions, would not understand the majority of UUs. Whites are intellectual and
educated; [People of Color] are emotive and affective. People of color would not be
comfortable in the UUA.” Obviously this generalization is operative for those who state
that UUA ought to remain as it is in regard to racial composition. But the same results
may occur from the dynamic which originates in the stereotype even when it is held by
people who wish the organization were more inclusive of racial groups.29
There are no congregations in North American Unitarian Universalism that currently
have or have had a majority membership of People of Color. An examination of the few
congregations that have been attempted as intentionally multiracial/multicultural, grounded as
liberal religious communities that are by and for People of Color, have failed to realize a
sustainable membership of People of Color or have closed down. Historically, as Black Pioneers
documented, Black ministers interested in serving or bringing their congregation of Blacks into
the UUA were unsuccessful in breaking the social segregation, predominant in America, even in
a liberal religious system with natural tendencies towards integration30. Organizations for People
of Color have had an equal fate, suffering from institutional resistance, lacking a critical mass,
and falling short of establishing the financial stability and long-term staffing necessary for
success31.
The racial and cultural roots of Unitarianism and Universalism in North America are
classically White. Both churches that joined together in 1961 to create the UUA have a history
of nativism, racial superiority and segregation among the congregations, ministers and individual
lay membership.32 A surge of membership from People of Color, particularly AfricanAmericans, happened in the 1960s in direct response to the racial justice-oriented political action
of White Unitarian Universalists. This increase in racial diversity was a one-time event and was
undermined by the intense and painful Empowerment Controversy that began in the mid-1960s
and lasted until the late 1970s.33 This period in Unitarian Universalism saw an exodus of
African-American and other People of Color and White Allies who experienced a betrayal of
principles and purposes with respect to racial justice.
Rev. Victor Carpenter is widely considered to possess the largest body of knowledge,
from personal experience to active research, on the topic of the Empowerment Controversy. He
has had the most substantial material published on the subject, including the 2003 book, Long
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Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy 1967-1977.34 The era, often titled the “Black”
Empowerment Controversy, is more accurately a White controversy with the idea and action of
Black empowerment. Carpenter, who served as parish minister of congregations in Philadelphia
and Boston during this time, highlights the failure of White Unitarian Universalists to be aware
of the shifting of the traditional ordering of authority. The UUA was one, if not the first, White
religious community to respond en masse to the calls of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference for civil rights, beginning most prominently in 1965
in Selma, Alabama. From this point forward however, the UUA struggled to understand and act
in right relationship with African-Americans while society’s cultural grounding of racial
relations shifted so significantly underneath.35
The Empowerment Controversy involved the UUA institution as a whole, in tension with
Black Unitarian Universalists who had been inspired and welcomed by White Unitarian
Universalist racial justice efforts as well as the racial identity and justice consciousness raised by
civil rights, Black power, desegregation, and anti-racism activities in communities across
America. At the heart of the tension, the UUA, through a special resolution presented and voted
upon at GA in, committed $1,000,000 to Black Empowerment after heated debate. After further
debate, at times harsh and bitter, this commitment was never fulfilled. Additional conflict arose
between the original Black Caucus and their partner White Ally organization and a counterorganizing effort entitled Black and White Alternative which disagreed with the notion of Blackcentered decision-making authority and caucusing and instead offered up the mission of working
together as equals on issues of equality in Unitarian Universalism.36 Today this period of history
continues to trouble efforts at racial justice, with many complex questions. Carpenter writes,
Such telling as has occurred has only succeeded in raising more questions than have been
set to rest. For most people in the denomination, many questions remain unclear: Who
were the contesting bodies? What separated them from each other? What was the role
played by the UUA in the conflict? And why is the controversy labeled ‘black’ when the
overwhelming majority of the participants (for we must count all Unitarian Universalists
at that time as participants) were ‘white’?37
Unitarian Universalism today is virtually an all-White faith. While there is no regular
census that can provide comprehensive and comparative data, the occasional surveys conducted
by the UUA, specifically the Commission on Appraisal, all provide estimates that more than
95% of the membership identify as European-American or White. The faith is not just majority
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White, it is dominantly White. The most recent data published in 1998, in part to assist Dr.
Robert Bellah in his presentation to the GA on “Unitarian Universalism in Societal Perspective”,
revealed the following38:
UUA Racial/Cultural Demographics 1998
European-American or White
Native American/Indigenous
African-American (or of African
descent)
Latina/o/Hispanic
Asian American
No Answer
97.6%
2.5%
1.3%
1.1%
.8%
226 of 8118 or 2.8% of respondents
How does the Whiteness of Unitarian Universalism manifest in our congregations and
institutions? One central dynamic is the unfettered and accumulated entitlements of privilege
and power within the institution. This is documented throughout Unitarian and Universalist
history, with the first systemic challenge in the 1960s during the Empowerment Controversy.
With People of Color originally, traditionally and systematically absent from our religious
communities, the conversation and direction of the institution continued on a path that ignored
and/or marginalized the hopes and aspirations of People of Color within the faith.
“Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, is an essay written by Peggy McIntosh in 1988. In
this essay she ponders whether and how racism is purely an individual act of meanness or a
system conferring dominance to White people and she provides a simple litany of the personal
aspects of Whiteness. Her piece has been widely utilized within UUA racial justice efforts, and
has been regularly quoted and referred to as descriptive of the culture of privilege which White
people enjoy in the UUA. Her list, which she refers to as an invisible backpack that all White
people carry around whether they know it or not, assists us in describing the nature of the
community and the intellectual, spiritual and political challenge faced by People of Color
seeking respect, dignity and equality within the church. Here are several examples:
McIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (selected)
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that
people of my color made it what it is.
3. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the
existence of their race.
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4. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in
which s/he is the only member of her/his race.
5. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily
physical protection.
6. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
7. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
8. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the
world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
9. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person
of my race.
10. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in,
rather than isolated, out-of-place, unheard, held at a distance or feared.39
What is striking about this list of privileges I have selected above is that by adding “in
Unitarian Universalism” one would still find truth to the statements. My experience and the
experiences of People of Color I have met and worked with confirm this. The effort at
overcoming a White culture of privilege that is fueled by a culture of marginalization and
domination for People of Color is troubled by the complex nature and history of race and racism
and the difficulty in asking and acting upon what is right and true instead of with self-interest
and a lack of knowledge about the experience of People of Color. The disconnect between
White people and People of Color is illustrated well by White UU Minister Rev. Dr. Marilyn
Sewell who writes,
…seeking what is true is dangerous. When we are informed, we must act. Truth means
responsibility. So there are things we prefer to be misinformed about, or hazy about.
Whites don’t really want to know how People of Color experience their lives, for if we
did, we would have to change.40
In an Open Letter to White Unitarian Universalists, published in the 1988 World
Magazine of the UUA, President William Schultz makes a direct appeal to the call for racial and
cultural diversity in Unitarian Universalism, seeking to assuage us away from wallowing in guilt
while making clear that Whites within the church will need to be partners in this goal.
This letter is not about guilt. It is about possibility. I have addressed this letter to white
Unitarian Universalists both because I speak out of the experience of a white person and
because I believe that whether or not Unitarian Universalism ever becomes a truly multiracial faith will depend in large measure upon the reactions and attitudes of whites. …we
have far too few black, yellow, brown, or red Unitarian Universalists – our surveys
suggest no more than three percent – and that this dearth deprives every one of us, no
matter our color, of the richness of a racially diverse religious community.41
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Dr. Rebecca Parker, President of Starr King School for the Ministry, met recently with
the DRUUMM Seminarians Caucus42 to discuss several points of analysis she has developed
with respect to the attitudes and behavior of Whites within the UUA. While she is still
developing a comprehensive examination of White privilege, she offers these two habits of
White privilege within the Unitarian Universalist context which help us understand better the
religious environment in which People of Color are raised or welcomed into.
Parker’s Two Habits of White Privilege in Unitarian Universalism:
1. Benevolent Paternalism – This habit makes the assumption that the privilege and
resources enjoyed by White people needs to be extended to People of Color. The habit is
based on viewing People of Color as less than White people. White people are helpers,
People of Color are the helpee. Whites see themselves as resourceful and the habit
reinforces White identity as benevolent and good. Roots of this habit can be seen in our
tradition’s historical leaders. William Ellery Channing, for example, wanted to raise
People of Color to the standards and norms set by White people. The unequal
relationships are required for the generosity to continue. This habit limits people,
especially People of Color who are viewed as not whole, not fully developed.
An example from the 1981 UUA Institutional Racism Audit provides us with more
perspective from the Black experience. It emphasizes Parker’s concern of White people clinging
to the role of benevolent helper and the intrinsic unequal relationship People of Color in our
congregations can be subject to.
During a break in a UUA meeting, two black persons were talking over coffee. A white
person, also a member of the same committee which was meeting, came over to the two
blacks and said, “I’m so glad you’re with us.” At least one of those black persons wondered
about the incident: Is there some kind of paternalism – a benefactor relationship here? Is she
glad that I’m here today? How welcome will I be tomorrow? Was I a “stray” or an
“outsider” – invited in and officially welcomed to be “with them” on the inside?43
2. Romantic Dependence – This habit involved White people projecting their un-integrated
“dark” side or prophetic voice onto People of Color. White people need People of Color
to mature, express emotions, or get in touch with their passions.44
In this dominant all-White cultural environment, what is the identity, spirit and way of life
for People of Color? The experience within the church is inherently rife with incidents of
racism, both personal and institutional. The presence of racist attitudes and behaviors, many of
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which are unexamined within our congregations, takes a toll on People of Color in obvious and
obscure ways. The ability for People of Color to gather a critical mass is difficult due to the
small numbers, and restricted by the conduct of White privilege that fails to recognize the
importance of nurturing and sponsoring community and leadership development for People of
Color. In unhealthy ways, White Unitarian Universalism expresses anxiety over power and
place about People of Color interested in life beyond a minimalist congregant. Leon Spencer, a
long-time UU leader, former member of the UUA Board of Trustees and District President,
comments that “what makes racism so intractable (in the UUA) is white middle-class people’s
fear that by coming to grips with it they might lose their identity and the privileges the culture
has granted them…The fear is that we might have to give something up.”45
In the Survey of Unitarian Universalist People of Color I conducted, the following are the
results of the stated racial/cultural diversity of their Unitarian Universalist congregation:
Racial/Cultural Makeup of UU Congregations
Attended by People of Color
Mostly All White
64.84%
More than average UU church
12.09%
Diverse, not majority, but significant
15.38%
No Answer/No Place of
Worship/Unknown
8.79%
It is important to note that of the 15% who reported the most racial/cultural diversity,
nearly one-third were members of the same congregation – All Souls Washington DC. For those
9% who had no answer, were not sure or not in a congregation, several were members of the
Church of the Larger Fellowship or Church of the Younger Fellowship, virtual congregations
connected by mail, phone and internet and people were unaware of any statistics or presence of
other People of Color. Looking at these numbers, reported by self-identified People of Color, we
can make the assertion that while all People of Color worship in congregations where they are a
considerable numerical minority, the 27% who stated a higher than average racial/cultural
diversity (more than 5%) is most likely higher than the percentage of White Unitarian
Universalists who worship in such congregational settings.
These selected comments from respondents help to convey both their awareness and their
frustrations.
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Virtually All-White Congregations (64.84%)
These responses, by far a majority of the respondents, showed a sentiment of frustration
at the token presence of People of Color that appeared to manifest with either matter-of-fact
resignation or a sense of sharp frustration. Sample responses:
“I am the only People of Color church member in a congregation of 150 membership.”
“It falls within the UUA norm, i.e., over 90% White.”
“It is very white. You can count with your fingers the People of Color in a congregation
of over 800 pledgers. About 65% within five mile radius of the neighborhood are People
of Color and about 85% are children of color.”
“Only a handful of the 250 congregation members are “People of Color.”
“Out of congregation of 400, only 6 persons are African-American and 4 East Indian.”
Predominately White Congregations (12.09%)
These responses, while attempting to describe what is clearly more racial diversity than
the average congregation, still notes the isolated nature of People of Color in congregational life.
Several noted how the few People of Color are rapidly dispersed among multiple committees in
the congregation, an admission that provides evidence of potential burnout, and others
commented on the importance of anti-racism and diversity work in bringing together People of
Color in the first place, including spouses and children of color who may not normally attend the
predominately White congregation. Sample responses:
“Out of about 750 members and 250 friends at First UU church of San Diego, we have
about 40 People of Color most of whom are actually multiracial: Latino/Latina, African
Diaspora, Indian, Native American, Filipino/Filipina, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and
Middle Eastern. About 7 of these People of Color are active in the church including three
who are currently serving on the Board of Trustees. Our active People of Color meet
once per month by themselves and once with our white allies. We have a person of color
on the nominating committee, one person chairing the associate minister search
committee, two on the JTW committee, and one on the worship resource team. People of
color also serve as RE leaders and OWL trainers.”
“My congregation of about 140 has about 10%, i.e. about 14. How do you count a
Hispanic male who is married to a white woman with three kids? Is this 1, 4 or 5.
Likewise we have a white man married to an Argentinean with two kids. Have a white
couple who adopted a South American girl, how is she counted?”
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“There is a small group of People of Color that have begun to organize in my home
church. We have started with a potluck for about 50 people with the full support and
participation of the church leadership, and are planning activities and events to try and
institutionalize the importance of both diversity work and the value of caucusing.”
Majority White Congregations, Significant Minority of People of Color (15.38%)
As discussed earlier, nearly half of these responses visibly identified All Souls DC as
their congregation (the survey did not ask for congregational name). Most voiced a sense of
pride and enthusiasm for the presence of People of Color, noting their involvement in leadership,
impact on the culture, and the importance to their spiritual growth. Sample comments:
“VERY DIVERSE. I attend All Souls Unitarian in Washington, DC. The racial/cultural
diversity is why I am willing to attend church again.”
“My church has several African-American lay leaders including me, the treasurer.
However the congregation is probably only about 20% People of Color -- inclusive of all
non-whites.”
“The only UU community or worship I participate in is DRUUMM, so it is very racially
diverse. And diverse with People of Color, not so much with White folks, though there is
the occasional worship with White Allies and family members.”
No Answer/Not Sure/No Congregation (8.79%)
These responses come from persons who live and work as or within Unitarian
Universalism, but do not attend a congregation, or have not recently, or belong to the distancebased Church of the Larger fellowship, a congregation without a brick-and-mortar home.
Sample responses:
“I am a member of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. I don’t know the
racial/ethnic/cultural diversity of this congregation. I don’t believe CLF has surveyed its
membership to find out our racial/cultural diversity.”
“I don’t attend worship on a consistent basis anymore. When I was Catholic, I was
immersed in a People of Color community. Some of the most meaningful worships for
me have been in People of Color communities.”
“I generally do not worship, I am far more introspective on my spirituality than a lot of
people, I feel. When I do worship, I like it to be in communities of Color, or mostly of
Color.”
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The Whiteness of the faith should be no surprise to Unitarian Universalists, and those
informed about the UUA. While little has been written about why this is the case, it is the widely
perceived and accepted reality of the over 150,000 adult members of North American
congregations. Much more needs to be written about the White identity of Unitarian
Universalism, for as we come to understand this part of our heritage and our present, we can
more authentically foster relationships and we can make better this liberal religious faith
welcoming for People of Color.
Understanding the intensity of being an overwhelmingly White faith is important as we begin
exploring the experiences and history of People of Color. People of Color in this position are
essentially operating in the margins, and this changes both the experience and the interpretation
of the experience. Almost entirely, People of Color are acutely isolated, and thus labors and
accomplishments may regularly feel, and be recognized for their pioneering nature. This has the
potential to mislead through superfluous praise or relative silence stifled by a White community
that lets guilt and shame dictate their ability to authentically relate and minister to People of
Color. In the next chapter, concluding attention to the sociological context will be addressed in
considering what is at stake, both from the voices of White Unitarian Universalists and People of
Color Unitarian Universalists seeking racial justice and equality.
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Chapter VI: What Is At Stake
“It has long been an ideal for white people who have regarded themselves as supportive
of better relations between races to try to think of ourselves as indifferent to the color of a
person’s skin. “I treat everyone the same, regardless of color,” we have said. And this is a noble
sentiment. But, given the realities of race in North America today, it is also, I suspect, not an
entirely helpful one. To be “color blind” in a predominately white culture such as ours is in fact
to see the world through an ivory prism. It is to fail to understand deep in our hearts that the
experience of being black, brown, yellow or red is truly different from being white. To be “color
blind” is to try to minimize those differences and bleach them over.”
– William Schultz “An Open Letter to White Unitarian Universalists” (1998)46
“Our unique identity within Unitarian Universalism as a diverse, anti-racist People of Color
community, carries with it both responsibilities and opportunities. Therefore, we covenant with
one another to:
 Change the racial status quo in the Unitarian Universalist Association;
 Develop tools and strategies to work together;
 Remain together and present with one another through disagreement and conflict;
 Connect to this organization and one another throughout our professional and personal
affiliations with the UUA;
 Provide vision and leadership for the Journey Towards Wholeness;
 Hold one another accountable in our efforts to become an anti-oppressive faith
community.”
– DRUUMM Racial Justice Covenant: Resistance and Harmony (2000)47
Telling the history of People of Color in Unitarian Universalism, as addressed earlier, is
in part a political act. The fact that there is insufficient history written in the first place is
significant to the culture of Unitarian Universalism, as it both signifies the general absence of
People of Color and the marginal place for those who are present. Paula Cole Jones, a former
President of DRUUMM and a second generation member of All Souls Washington DC, noted at
the 2003 GA that “being present is no longer enough.” This is in response to the continual
suffering of People of Color, and in addition to the repeated need for People of Color to be the
ones to speak out and educate White Unitarian Universalists48. People of Color and White
people, who seek to manifest the racial justice commitments, imperatives and promises of our
Unitarian Universalist past, need to have a stronger sense of that past in order to make rewarding
and meaningful plans for the future. For some People of Color, the question about remaining
Unitarian Universalist, particularly in the religious professional field, lingers. For all, our future
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as an authentic, compassionate multiracial community is of vital concern. Today, in the 21st
century, People of Color are emerging in larger numbers, more organized and interconnected
with each other and our congregations.
In our congregations the racial and cultural diversity is already rapidly changing, and
more and more of it is being brought to the attention of religious professionals. The last twentyfive years have seen more sophisticated, grassroots, comprehensive and adaptable efforts at both
building People of Color ministry and community, as well as witnessing White UUs working
towards understanding their own individual responsibility in fostering a multiracial faith. We are
at a point when the Empowerment Controversy of the 1960s is nearly 50 years old, and many of
the controversy’s central figures aging and passing on. UUA President William Sinkford writes
of these in the introduction to Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy 1967-1977,
published by Meadville-Lombard Press in 2003:
Perhaps enough time has passed for those in my generation to forgive [the pain of the
Empowerment Controversy]. Perhaps we are ready: Twenty years of growth in numbers,
and years of associational commitment to anti-racism. But most important, perhaps: the
complexion of our congregations is changing. The change is not most evident in our
pews, though I see some change there as well. The change is in our RE classrooms and
youth groups. Transracial adoption, blended families, mixed marriages of many kinds
are beginning to make our church schools and youth programs look more like the world.
Perhaps we are ready to ask ourselves what kind of a church we will bequeath to our
children – all of our children. We must learn to help our children, all of them, be proud
to say, “I am a Unitarian Universalist. This is my church.”49
Sinkford draws our attention to the changes in our racial and cultural diversity,
particularly in our children and youth community. By all accounts, despite inconsistent and
limited efforts at conducting a racial/cultural census in the UUA, percentages of People of Color
are higher among the younger age groupings.50 Reflecting on what is at stake for this next
generation is an enduring activity, and our ability to understand the church environment, the
presence and the vision of People of Color will greatly improve the relevance, quality and
authenticity of our Unitarian Universalist ministries and its community. The growing presence
of children of color, many of whom are growing up and becoming active in DRUUMM’s youth
and young adult programs, is a challenging development given the limited resources available,
and the lack of clarity with respect to how we imagine the multiracial/multicultural change. We
need to nurture this change intentionally, systemically and with a long-term vision. To do this
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effectively, we need to be aware of the history and experience of People of Color thus far, for
this will teach us many important lessons as well as honor the endeavors and accomplishments of
those before us.
There is anxiety around the growth of children of color in a White church without a
vision or understanding of People of Color history and experience. The default behavior of
many UU congregations has been reported regularly as non-action around race relations, racial
and cultural identity development, and activism for racial justice. The Unity Church-Unitarian
of St Paul, Minnesota Church conducted an important and transformative historical accounting
of congregational activities from the 1800’s to the present as part of their involvement with the
Minnesota Collaborative Anti-Racism Initiative, a partner with Crossroads Ministry. This
accounting, entitled an Institutional Racism Audit, underlines this historic behavior in their large
church setting. This understanding of past behavior and attitudes is important in shifting the
culture and practice of our congregations in positive ways. The challenge for Unity-Unitarian
was:
Unity Church did not change in its willingness or ability to engage in the challenging
work of developing authentic interracial relationships. As in the early years of Unity, we
do not think the racial exclusion that existed here during this time period was
intentionally racist in its origins. It was more a result of being oblivious to its existence
and its impact. It was a result of feeling that we are fine as we were and not wanting to
change.51
Perpetuating a blind policy of non-engagement only reinforces the concern about
institutional amnesia which Morrison-Reed raises, and will forever be a sign to People of Color
in a predominately White church that they matter less. Minimizing or ignoring the experiences
of People of Color will be a constant dissonance for the younger generation as they grow up, and
we do a terrible disservice to impart the gift of tone-deafness to the voices of People of Color
within the UUA. At stake in telling the history of People of Color is both improving our present
condition as well as seeding a better future.
Through this thesis I am advocating for a UUA, from the association to the
congregational level, that remembers, endorses and funds community building and spiritual
development for People of Color in congregations and in the world at large as an affirmation
and actualization of the Journey Towards Wholeness Resolution of 1997 and as an issue of
universal justice and equity. It calms the soul and helps give us meaning to know our personal
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and community roots, and to do so as Unitarian Universalists will help bring about the truth that
Sinkford hopes for, that all the children, newcomers and lifelong will say, “I am a Unitarian
Universalist. This is my church.”
Visions of UU People of Color
Turning to the survey again, let us listen to some of the responses to the question of
“Why are you a Unitarian Universalist?”. In general, these replies point to the free, liberal
religious theology and spiritual practice of Unitarian Universalism. A few note the importance
of racial diversity in their particular house of worship. Most commonly, the responses
demonstrate multiple credo, or belief statements, that center on commonly held Unitarian
Universalist principles, purposes, and sources of faith. Selected responses, with some parts
emphasized:
“I became a UU through architectural curiosity. I was always fascinated by the Arlington
Street structure and stained glass, so one day I went in and was shocked to see a black
minister, Dr. Renford Gaines (Malimu Imara), the first black minister since
reconstruction. His progressive message and uncongenial programs impressed me and I
became a member. In my recollection I think that I was made to feel welcome by mostly
white members in a genuine way. I enjoyed social parity among the socially wellestablished with a spiritual outlook. I was exposed to an atmosphere of spiritual and
intellectual enlightenment which promoted self growth and self discovery. In actuality I
felt I was among ordinary people with extraordinary means and sincere social outreach. I
chose to remain in spite of a few disconcerting racial experiences. My reasons being due
to genuine social connections, and UU Societies racial, feminist and social legacies which
influenced radical changes in American society from the Ante-bellum period to the
1970s. Presently, I am not sure that the current state of social and spiritual effectiveness
is leaving an impact on its members. Having a black CEO who projects a liberal image,
does not guarantee any effective leadership in the areas where we have lost our social,
racial and spiritual effectiveness.” [African descent]
“I am a Unitarian Universalist because of theological and philosophical reasons. I remain
a Unitarian Universalist because of these theological and philosophical reasons. Race,
ethnicity, and social egalitarianism are very important aspects of this foundational
theology and philosophy, but there is more to it as well. I do believe the UUA has a lot of
work to do as far as minority leadership and representation is concerned. The UUA does
well, and it could do better.” [Latino/a, Native and White descent]
“Theologically, I am an atheist agnostic who acknowledges the need for faith. I see the
evidence for God as sketchy at best, so I do not think belief in God is warranted, hence
my atheism. I question our ability to make a final conclusive decision either way, hence
my agnosticism. I also recognize that the purpose of religion is really to discover those
things that make life worth living, and that faith is an important component in that quest,
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hence my personal articles of faith: that life is worth living, that relationships are worth
having, and that the ethical path is worth pursuing. I hold on to these beliefs even though
I concede that they cannot be logically proven or empirically demonstrated. In the part of
the country where I live (North Central Texas), the only place where I can live out my
religious quest while remaining true to my personal integrity, is in the Unitarian
Universalist Church.” [Latino/a descent]
“My grandparents were Buddhists and Confuscianists, and though I was raised within the
Methodist faith, as a young adult, I found it difficult to accept that they were considered
“sinners” and would not be “saved” because they didn’t accept Jesus as their Lord and
Savior. Unitarian principles and acceptance and valuing of people of many different
backgrounds and beliefs fit into my personal framework better than any Christian faith. I
also found About Your Sexuality, now Our Whole Lives, curriculum more helpful in
talking with my son about sexuality and relationships than other religious perspectives.”
[Asian/Pacific Islander descent]
“I have chosen to remain a UU because I believe that it is vitally important to rebuild the
moral left. UUism is descended from Christianity, and thereby is able to engage in
dialogue with the conservative religious right, and present a different, but also spiritually
grounded perspective on political issues of the day. I have also chosen to remain a UU
because it speaks to my faith beliefs, and my spiritual practice. Religion and faith are
very important parts of my life.” [Asian/Pacific Islander descent]
“I did not choose to become Unitarian Universalist. My mother chose this faith
community for her family when I was very young. My first church was a Unitarian
church with significant “People of Color” membership. This has been my only church. I
have chosen to remain a Unitarian Universalist because theologically and philosophically
this is my identity. As an adult, there have been several times when I have had to be
intentional in recommitting myself and remaining a Unitarian Universalist. Today I am a
UU because I do believe that this Association is a place where there is a commitment to
self-examination, especially regarding racism and other forms of oppression. There are
no other predominantly white institutions, of which I have been involved that articulate
this commitment so clearly and act accordingly. We are by no means where many of us
hope the Association will be, but I know other people who believe that it is possible for
us to live up to our ideals. My personal, professional, and spiritual values are all fully
integrated here. What is lacking is the cultural context that makes this a place where
more people from my “Community of Color” would feel welcome and at home.”
[African descent]
Selected responses to the survey question: “Statistically, congregations in Unitarian
Universalism are over 90% White racially, culturally and ethnically. What is your opinion of
this state of affairs?” These responses provide People of Color opinions as to the state of affairs
with respect to racial and cultural diversity in congregations. A real sense of frustration emerges
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in these answers, one in which some express acceptance of the situation, but most identify the
situation as a paradox given the theology and ethos of Unitarian Universalism.
“That’s a complex question. At first glance, what can one say? I’m mad, sad, confused, feel
left hopeless, worried…..all of them at once. I don’t know what to say. As a staff member, I
worry about saying these things because they might offend others who have been struggling
in this battle for far longer than I have. So, I don’t know how to feel. It’s difficult when this
situation comes up in a community that you once loved. With an “outside” perspective, I
found it hard to explain to others how and why this statistic continues to exist.” [Latino/a
descent]
“I don’t think Unitarian Universalism can be true to its stated principles, values and identity
if we continue to be over 90% white. I also think that if this “state of affairs” is to change,
there must be intentional efforts to do so, and a willingness to take risks and try diverse ways
of building congregations, including those that are culturally-based as well as intentionally
multiracial and multicultural.” [African descent]
“The Unitarian Universalist Association is resistant to changing its methods except on a very
superficial level because many of the people who fund them are resistant to Anti-Racism (not
necessarily Anti-Racism programming, but the infusion of Anti-Racism into UUism).
Challenging its own institutional racism plunges the UUA into unfamiliar territory and could
vastly change our financial outlook forever.” [African and White descent]
“Sad. Even in Southern California communities where POC are indeed the majority, I see
white UU churches unwilling to acknowledge their implicit role in maintaining the status
quo. A big problem is white-controlled UU churches are unwilling to risk alienating “their
own”—particularly the more conservative older and higher-pledging white UUs who ‘like
church just the way it is.’” [Asian/Pacific Islander descent]
“We could do better to make our congregations more racially diverse, but I’m at a loss when
it comes to how! I myself have continued to invite POCs to our worship services, and they
don’t stay around. They find it very hard to fit in. It’s almost like breaking into a clique. I’m
not exaggerating that when I look at our membership book and picked out the POCs in my
congregation, all of them have, are, or were in inter-racial marriages with the other half being
white! It’s a fact that I can’t ignore. We must change this. In one of my sermons from the
pulpit, I asked, “Do we have to marry one of you to get a foot in the door?” and I do mean
that very seriously.” [Asian/Pacific Islander descent]
“The UUA always states that they want to have Diversity in their congregations, yet if you
take a poll over 95% of the Caucasians are pretty well off with a Income of $75K on up, and
then about 4% are various other cultures that are also well off and can afford large fancy
materialistic items. Then lastly there is that 1% who are working class people struggling to
make ends meet, yet they support the UUA values and give a lot of their selves in many other
ways, yet a lot of times people just get walked over when it comes down to it. I’ve also read
this on many Websites talking about issues with UUA Congregations.” [Latino/a descent]
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“I work as a volunteer facilitator for Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshops. Getting
beyond this statistic is easier to talk about than actually change. The benefits of inclusion is
acknowledged, however, there is a disease with high numbers of non Caucasian members.
Greater numbers would be perceived as being discomforting. They fear the moniker then of
being a People of Color church.” [African descent]
Historical Literature
There are only a handful of books published that document the history of Unitarian
Universalism over the last 25 years. None of them bear witness to the experience of People of
Color within Unitarian Universalism. The textbooks examining our faith post-1961 merger
make no remark outside of the 1968-1979 Black Empowerment Controversy of a Unitarian
Universalist ministry to and with People of Color. The Empowerment Controversy is by all
accounts the most documented period of time in our denomination when persons of Color were
involved and organized. This period was painful and continues to hurt today among many of our
elder generation. The fallout of the conflict, around the development of Black Power organizing
and a White institutions attempt at accountability and a justice-centered response to persons of
African descent during the 1960s, is still a wedge issue preventing reconciliation and progress
towards racial justice in the UUA. Nearly all of the writings about this era are by White men,
specifically Victor Carpenter, Jack Mendelsohn and Warren Ross. Mark Morrison-Reed writes
of the time saying:
"The black empowerment controversy was a denominational tragedy. Social and
institutional realities beyond anyone's control placed tremendous pressures on the UUA.
The different choices made by many good people set them ideologically and then
emotionally in opposition to one another. The legacy of that time and those events is with
us today."52
Any evidence of accomplishments by People of Color, of efforts at ministering to People
of Color, the life and times of People of Color, and particularly the experiences of religious
professionals, is noticeably absent in the UUA. Any reference that is made usually is a footnote,
or quote, referring to the legacy of the Empowerment Controversy which continues to be the
“Big Unresolved Elephant In The Room.” The history of People of Color over the last 25 years
is there, but you have to be more than a casual explorer. Is the lack of any publicly accessible
history for People of Color affecting our expressed commitments to racial and cultural diversity?
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Is the lack of a history of People of Color reinforcing the “extreme Whiteness” as reported by the
seminal 1983 Commission on Appraisal Report?
There needs to be more history written by People of Color in Unitarian Universalism.
We have the fruits of Morrison-Reed in Black Pioneers, and hopefully he will contribute more
now in retirement. Yet we need more than Morrison-Reed, and we need more than the
recounting and evaluation of the African-American experience. With a growing number of
religious professions of color, Middle Eastern/Arab, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino/a, American
Indian/Indigenous, even without a growing number of People of Color adult laity, perhaps we
will see more efforts on par with Black Pioneers. In truth it is desperately needed in an
association with such deep, yet unfulfilled, promises of racial justice and equality. Continued
initiatives regarding anti-racism, race relations, and racial and cultural diversity need
comprehensive accounts and analysis of the experience of People of Color within the institution.
This will also be meaningful and necessary to the quality of People of Color ministry, which
only recently has become a theological and pastoral imperative within the UUA.
Race and Racism in the UUA
The final piece in laying out a sociological context for the experience of People of Color
is an accounting of some of the significant encounters of racism in the UUA. It is these incidents
that have become legend within the circles of laity and religious professionals who continue to
carry forward efforts at racial justice and equality, practicing and improving institutional
understandings of racial ideas, and who strive to build community for People of Color.
Frederick Buechner offers this definition of racism. It is a story with a moral, and
presents racism without harsh judgment. While it frames racism in Black and White racial
terms, it does offer a window into how to understand the complexity of the issue. I like it,
particularly from a faith perspective, as it associates racism with suffering, a state that we are
called to be attentive to. One of the ways we care, and ultimately seek out justice-centered
solutions, is to caucus. My paper and research is composed with this in mind, as a gentle “aide
memoir” for White Unitarian Universalists, and a resource and grounding pastoral message to
Unitarian Universalists of Color. Buechner writes of racism:
In 1957 when Governor Faubus of Arkansas refused to desegregate the schools in Little
Rock, if President Eisenhower with all his enormous prestige had personally led a black
child up the steps to where the authorities were blocking the school entrance, it might
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have been one of the great moments in history. It is heartbreaking to think of the
opportunity missed.
Nothing in American history is more tragic surely than the relationship of the black and
white races. Masters and slaves both were dehumanized. The Jim Crow laws carried the
process on for decades beyond the Emancipation. The Ku Klux Klan and its like keep
going forever. Politically, economically, socially, humanly the blacks continue to be the
underdog. Despite all the efforts of both races to rectify the situation and heal the
wounds, despite all the progress that has been made, it is still as hard for any black to
look at any white without a feeling of resentment as it is for any white to look at any
black without a feeling of guilt.
‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor
female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,’ Paul wrote to the Galatians (3:28), and many
a white and many a black must have read his words both before the Civil War and since,
perhaps even given them serious thought. If more whites had taken them to heart, were
to take them to heart today, you can’t help speculating on all the misery – past, present,
and to come – that both races would have been spared.
Many must have taken them to heart but then simply not done what their hearts directed.
The chances are they weren’t bad people or unfeeling people all in all. Like Eisenhower,
they simply lacked the moral courage, the creative vision that might have won the day.
The Little Rock schools were desegregated in the end anyhow by a combination of legal
process and armed force, but it was done without some gesture of courtesy, contrition,
compassion that might have captured the imagination of the world.
The experiences of racism by People of Color in Unitarian Universalism from 19802005, are told through a lens of anti-racism as presently articulated by the UUA Journey
Towards Wholeness Committee, discussed in more depth in Chapter VIII. The reports done here
vary with respect to intensity and character, however collected together they provide us with
some of what Dias referred to as the strands of the “basket of history.” These incidents
document the negative encounters with race, although it would be a mistake to assume that all
encounters in the UUA are negative. Clearly the continuous presence and commitment of People
of Color tells us otherwise. This does not mean however that we should disregard these stories.
It is important to remember as well that racism in all its forms can be considered a form of
trauma. While not always physically violent, the emotional, spiritual and psychological pain of
negative race-related encounters leave lasting impressions as do other forms of oppression. In
Unitarian Universalism the pain can be magnified by the deep commitment to free religion,
stated principles of inherent worth and dignity, and the inclusiveness the UUA has articulated
and struggled for in its collective history.
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Congregational Race Relations
Segregated White Universalist Churches – In 1963, a GA resolution was brought to the
floor proposing to mandate that membership in the UUA required open membership without
restriction. The resolution was addressing several Universalist congregations in the American
South who by bylaws or practice excluded Blacks from membership. The resolution was
defeated. In 1965 a Business Resolution was passed urging open membership, but no antidiscrimination clause was mandated. It is unclear when and how it became mandatory that
member congregations have open membership, but by 1980 this was, in fact, the case.
Invisibility – A Black person, prominent in UUA circles, was visiting a UU congregation.
During the coffee hour, after the morning service, this person was ignored, not officially greeted,
nor spoken to, nor introduced to a single member in attendance. Was this person invisible? Did
the person imagine it all? Did other people in attendance “wish” the black person were
invisible? Did they in their own discomfort fail to observe common courtesy and social
graces?53
Not Seeing the Forest Through the Trees - Returning to the incident already reported of
the black person who was left ungreeted or acknowledged at a church coffee hour, it is
instructive to recount what happened when that person told other UUA leaders of that
experience. Some of those leaders immediately quipped: “Oh, that’s the way they always are.”
White males in the group exclaimed: “We get treated that way, too, as denominational people.”
Members of the administration who were present pitched in with their own excuses for the
misbehavior of their “brethren in the country.” The situation evidenced a dynamic of
defensiveness toward a black person’s perceived experience of prejudicial or differential
treatment. The failure to be sensitive to black people’s perceptions of events, undercutting their
interpretation of reality, only exacerbates the problems of racism. As human beings, we are
distinguished from other life forms by our intelligence, ability to communicate and our acts of
perception. When one individual denies another his or her perception they are, in fact, denying
his or her humanity. When a person who is White denies the perception of another who is of
color, by attempting to excuse perceived prejudicial or racist behavior in themselves or other
Whites, it represents an attempt to redefine events and reality as perceived by the person of color.
To subordinate one set of perceptions to another is to subordinate one human being’s reality to
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that of another. When Whites do this to blacks, it reduces dialogue, blocks effective
communication and, in fact, constitutes a subtle and insidious form of racism – to deny the
validity of another human being’s perception of the world.54
Racial Hate Crime - A young teenage male, Joel Petty, was attacked in August of 1986 at
Murray Grove Conference and Retreat Center in New Jersey, a Unitarian Universalist summer
camp. He was jumped by seven youth and one adult at around 11:00 p.m. one evening after he
left the camp kitchen. The attack took place in front of the youth quarters, in a lighted area in the
central part of the camp. The attackers were trespassing with the intent to intimidate the Black
youth. After being surrounded, threatened, insulted, and punched in the chest, the young man
managed to flee into the woods around him, escaping his attackers. A video was produced three
months after this incident, in a reunion held at All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, D.C.
In the video, several of the participants at the summer camp that week discuss how they have
made sense of it all. The teenage victim was a part of the teen crew for the all ages church week.
The video was created with the purpose of getting in touch with one’s own stories of being a
victim of oppression, racism, and injustice.55
Difficulty for Ministers of Color – The UUA has recognized the intense challenge of
qualified Ministers of Color seeking to be called to UU congregations. In effect, most ministers
of color have served primarily in extension, new congregation, associate or assistant level
positions. Senior Minister positions, including only ministers, have been held by only 20% of
the fellowshipped Ministers of Color56 in the last 25 years. (see table below)
Ministers of Color and Parish Ministry
(Of Those Fellowshipped 1980-2005)
Ministers of Color ’80-‘05
Parish Ministry (ever)
Currently in Parish
Ministry
Senior Minister (called)
43 100.00%
28 63.64%
17
8
38.64%
18.18%
Although many efforts have been tried to address the difficulties People of Color ministers
experience, two efforts operate to mitigate these persistent obstacles. The first is the Policy on
Waivers of Rule 17 (Settlement Restrictions) of the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee
(MFC). At their December 2001 meeting, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee resolved as
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follows: “In support of affirmative action, the MFC will look favorably upon waiver requests of
Rule 17 in cases of appointed representatives of UUA anti-racism, anti-oppression, multi-cultural
programs. Such waivers can be granted by the Executive Committee. This was updated in
December 2003 to add, “In further support of affirmative action, the MFC moves to waive for
two years (January 1, 2005 – December 31, 2005) the requirements of the first paragraph of Rule
17 for ministers of color/historically marginalized groups serving as interim Ministers of
Religious Education, interim associate ministers, and interim assistant ministers.”57 As of 2005,
only three ministers have been in consideration for this waiver. Rev. Chester McCall, whose
advocacy was instrumental in establishing the waiver, was unsuccessful in receiving all he
sought as the first eligible person during his interim associate ministry at the First Church in San
Diego, California. Rev. Carlton Eliot Smith accepted a called assistant minister position at First
Parish in Arlington, Massachusetts after serving there as interim assistant minister.58 The third,
Rev. Marta Valentin, left the UU church of Arlington, Virginia after considering a waiver and
instead accepted the call to be Senior Minister of the First UU Church of New Orleans,
Louisiana.
The second current program of the UUA addressing the recurring obstacles People of Color
ministers face is to sponsor a gathering and facilitate mentorship and support for Ministers of
Color in their first or second years of parish ministry. This has developed in response to the
rapid increase in Seminarians of Color who have been ordained and the subsequent increase in
the number of Ministers of Color serving UU congregations. A meeting, held in May 2005,
brought together several of these ministers and mentor ministers, facilitated by the Joseph
Priestly District (which currently has highest number of People of Color parish ministers of any
district with 4,), and the UUA Identity Based Ministries Staff Group, although not all in the
target audience. This gathering provides limited support however to those it seeks to support,
with its low-profile, uncertain funding, and little information as to the meeting’s content and
long-term strategy.59
One cautionary tale concerns Rev. Chester McCall, an African descent minister who sought
multiple positions at the UUA over several years. After receiving no interviews for any of the
positions he pursued, he advocated for himself to the UUA administration, questioning why the
courtesy of an interview was not even extended, and finally received one phone interview.
While he was never hired by the UUA, he has since been called to the Unitarian Universalist
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Church of the Restoration in Mount Airy, a neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Here, a
widely recognized and capable minister, with strong connections to the UUA institutionally as an
anti-racism trainer and consultant, struggled to be recognized as a simple candidate for a UUA
staff position and only after bringing this to the attention of the UUA Executive Vice President
Kay Montgomery, was he given consideration.60 Incongruously, at his installation service, UUA
President William Sinkford gave one of the keynote addresses, congratulating Rev. McCall and
marking the importance of his ministerial call to, and for Unitarian Universalism.
Anti-Racism Institutional Audit – In May of 2005 the Anti-Racism Leadership Team of the
Unity Church-Unitarian delivered a 51-page report to the congregation covering 1850-2005. It
was written as part of their participation in the Minnesota Collaborative Anti-Racism Initiative
(MCARI)61, which provides training on understanding and dismantling racism. As a foundation
to the anti-racism work at Unity Church-Unitarian, the audit researched and summarized an
analysis of the church’s identity in relationship to racism within a historical context. “We intend
to use this audit to inform us as we continue to lead the church in the process of becoming an
intentionally anti-racist institution.”62
Their website provided a more detailed purpose and
goal:
The purpose of the institutional audit is to research an institution’s identity in relationship to
racism. The Anti-Racism Team examined Unity Church from the time of its earliest
formation to the current day in order to provide a thorough, thoughtful analysis of the
church’s institutional response to race. The audit will be a guide as the church moves forward
in the process of becoming an intentionally anti-racist institution. The audit is an invitation
to the congregation to participate in work that is extremely vital for the health and future of
Unity Church and Unitarian-Universalists everywhere. We believe that we can create a
church that is not only anti-racist in word, but has genuine acceptance, respect, and love for
all people as a recognizable part of its identity.
In the section covering 1970-2005, the report stated, “by 1998 the church had become more
‘White’ identified and focused. “ “Self-examination, individual, institutional and societal is
needed around issues of race.” “Complacent and undeniably silent on the subject of racism
when, in fact, and especially because of, its geographic location in a diversely populated innerurban neighborhood, a leadership role in this arena might have been a logical outcome.” “The
time has come for us to turn outward, while at the same time we begin a thorough examination of
our internal processes as a congregation.”63 At this time, no formal action has been made public,
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although the hope is that the historical accounting will provide a foundation for improved and
increased multiracial relations in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Denominational/Associational Race Relations
The following incidents and encounters have to do with experiences at the level of UUA
sponsored events, such as the General Assembly, UUA committees, UUA initiatives and
projects, and, more globally, the state of the UUA.
Objectifying People of Color - When a UUA official was describing the difficulties of
increasing membership among People of Color, he remarked: “The worship styles of most local
congregations have little sensitivity to the worship styles of people of color. Even urban
churches remain distinct from those worship styles familiar and comfortable to minorities.” The
notion of attributing group characteristics to urban minority, actual or potential UUA members,
is a fundamental error. The process of making choices for “them” and assuming what “they are
like is a precarious and precipitous one. As such, it represents a serious potential road block to
diversity within the UUA.64
Stalled Development of Racial Justice Curricula – Over the last 25 years there have been
three efforts at developing a curriculum for congregations that addresses the issues of race and
racism. All three remain incomplete. The first, Black America/White America: Understanding
the Discord, was envisioned in the 1970s and envisioned for completion in the early 1980s. The
Institutional Racism Audit had this to say:
In the late 1970s, the UUA entered into negotiations for the design and publication of
Black America/White America. A long history of writing, testing, revision, and
correspondence surrounds the controversy that developed over the curriculum. In
September of 1980, a letter from the major author of the curriculum suggested twice that
some resolution about whether or not to proceed with publication be made by January of
1981. In early December, Community Change team members (responsible for the
Institutional Racism audit) found that no decision had then been made or at that time was
envisioned for January 1981; again in early January no decision had been reached.
Somehow, persons responsible never got around to making a decision, or even getting the
matter onto the formal agenda. Like a dead albatross, the unresolved matter of the
curriculum drifts along behind the ship, whose wake periodically forces it to turn over,
rise again to the surface, then silently slide once more toward oblivion.65
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In the late 1980s, Morrison-Reed wrote the framework for a curriculum building on his book
Black Pioneers, that he called How Open the Door.66 He reported that the outline and materials
were developed, and a few congregations field tested it, but that similar to the experience of the
developers of Black America/White America, attention and focus of the UUA lagged to the point
that he gave up pushing for the finished product.67
Finally, in the mid 1990s, after the successful completion of Weaving the Fabric of Diversity,
which includes one session on racism, the Language of Race curriculum made it to the
manuscript stage. However it was never completed and published for distribution.
Affirmative Action – The UUA was slow to react around establishing affirmative action
policies and goals, the top recommendation of the 1981 UUA Institutional Racism Audit. Of
concern to the auditors was the tension within the UUA, making it difficult to effectively
implement affirmative action policies for People of Color given the UUA philosophy and White
culture. They wrote:
The twin concepts of meritocracy and democracy seem at the core of the UUA
philosophy. Developing human potential and enhancing production in culture, politics,
society and morality, appear as artifacts of UUA actions and worship ideals. Imagine
then our dismay to hear that when the questions of people of color and the ministry was
at one time put before the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, a response was
characterized with the following words: Do “they” fit the mold? – Are “their”
backgrounds, and experience typical of our usual placement requirements? Will we have
to lower the standards?68
Presently, the goals of, and analysis by the UUA are not publicly accessible and requires
several levels of investigation to collect. The GA does receive a report on the statistics of
racial/cultural and gender identities of the UUA administration, without analysis or commentary
aside from a statement from the 1973 GA resolution that mandated the UUA report “annually on
its efforts to provide employment opportunities to women and racial ‘minorities’ at all levels of
its staff….” While there used to be goal setting around affirmative action by the UUA Board,
there is no evidence that this continues. In 1991 for example, the UUA Board made their stated
goals public in the UU World (Mar/Apr 1991) stating that an “emphasis has been placed on
including persons of color at higher-level exempt positions as vacancies occur, and on
maintaining the number of persons of color on the staff at or above 20 percent.”69 There is no
regular review with the various People of Color organizations in the UUA such as DRUUMM
regarding whether the UUA is in compliance with this benchmark.
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Furthermore the supervisory staff of the UUA does not receive mandatory comprehensive
training around implementing affirmative action policy, although it is available upon request. In
the table below you can see that over the last 6 years there has been a slight decline in the
racial/cultural diversity of the UUA central staff. The all staff numbers are significantly higher
than the percentage of People of Color on the Leadership Council (formerly Executive Staff
Council) and those identified by the UUA as Managers. Also the Leadership Council/Managers
over the last two years constituted all African descent persons except one. Asian/Pacific
Islanders, Latino/as and Native descent persons were only represented among the designations of
Professional, Technician, Sales, Office & Clerical and/or Service Workers.
People of Color on UUA Staff (Headquarters and District)70
UUA
Leadership Council/
Staff
Managers
2005 14.29%
7.58%
2004 17.53%
8.82%
2003 16.59%
n/a
2002
n/a
n/a
2001 20.95%
n/a
2000 20.77%
n/a
General Assembly (GA) Race Relations
Thomas Jefferson Ball, Charlotte – In 1993, a year after the Racial and Cultural
Diversity resolution established the Racial and Cultural Diversity Task Force, General Assembly
was held in the Thomas Jefferson District in Charlotte, North Carolina. As part of the program,
the GA Planning Committee sponsored a “Thomas Jefferson Ball” with instructions to come in
period dress circa 1776. In the months leading up to GA, protests were issued by Unitarian
Universalists, including African descent UUs, deeply concerned that this would mean People of
Color having to attend in chains, as slaves, as those were their circumstances during that era.
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Due to the miscommunication and misplaced intentions, the Thomas Jefferson Ball was still held
despite concerns and communications raised in advance of GA. In response, the AfricanAmerican UU Ministry organized a boycott and protest that drew hundreds of delegates outside
the ballroom. The September/October 1993 World has this to say about the protest:
…the struggle for racial justice and inclusiveness was kept on the front
burner…especially by the controversy over Saturday night’s so-called Thomas Jefferson
Birthday Ball, which occasioned a protest demonstration led by the African-American
Unitarian Universalist Ministries (AAUUM). In a leaflet distributed at the
demonstration, AAUUM members cited Jefferson’s record as an “unrepentant slaveowner” and declared themselves “outraged” by the event, which delegates and others had
originally been urged to attend in period dress. “Should African-Americans attend [the
ball] in chains?” the leaflet asked. An estimated 300-400 people attended the
demonstration, which took place near the foot of an escalator leading up to the Omni
Hotel ballroom. To the Rev. William Jones, director of black studies at Florida State
University and a newly elected UUA trustee, it was “symbolic that the administration of
the denomination was up [in the ballroom] and I and other African-Americans and whites
who had a clearer idea of the problem were at the bottom of the escalator. Which side
was the authentic mainstream of Unitarian Universalism?” Jones asks.71
Hotel Refusal, Rochester – At the 1998 GA in Rochester, New York, a young adult of color
routinely checking in at the front desk was informed that she had no reservation. After a period
of discussion, intensified by frustration and the crushing presence of other GA delegates seeking
to check-in, the young woman was dismissed with condescension. She had to seek out the UUA
Director of Young Adult Ministry, a White minister with whom she had a working relationship,
and together they approached the manager. In this follow-up, the room was secured. A
complaint was made with the hotel and with the regional office based on the discourteous and
patronizing behavior of the front desk staff and management. The loosely organized network of
Young Adults of Color also came to the young woman’s aid, and similar stories were shared. In
conclusion, the manager of the hotel came to a gathering of the Young Adults of Color meeting
to apologize and ordered a buffet of foods for the final group meeting of GA.
Unwelcome, Cleveland – A group of African descent youth attended GA 2001 from the
Neighborhood Church of Pasadena, California. Through the Youth and Young Adults of Color
caucus that had started meeting collaboratively at GA 2000 in Nashville, Tennessee, they shared
experiences of being questioned by other GA delegates despite wearing their nametags. They
articulated pain at being unwelcome in their own faith.
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Commission on Appraisal Oral Report, Quebec City – During the Commission’s report to
the GA 2002, a skit was performed that ended up with a woman of color speaking, then a White
man suddenly and forcefully pushed her aside and remarked to now let the real report begin
(from him). Many People of Color, including the woman of color who had not agreed to that
particular part of the skit, raised concern and asked for some acknowledgement of the
inappropriateness of the action. Instead the Commission and other UUA leadership attempted to
minimize the issue. Finally, with the assistance of the Journey Towards Wholeness
Transformation Committee (JTWTC) and DRUUMM leadership, an announcement was made.
Rev. Susan Suchocki Brown, Chair of the JTWTC stated, “A significant number of persons
present are concerned and feel the issue of the Commission on Appraisal (COA) is still
unresolved and not a good way to end the GA. So we have been asked to come to you opening
up the deeper and unresolved issues not presently being offered to the GA attendees. We find it
regrettable that the COA was not able or willing to make a joint statement, but that a member of
the COA had to speak as an individual.”72 Paula Cole Jones, at the time President-elect of
DRUUMM added,
The situation that brings us here is not a private or a personal issue, it is a community
issue. Usually we do not hear the community response when a situation leaves someone
feeling slighted or devalued. This time we did. In order to establish right relationship,
we have to be able to trust that our concerns are being valued and that corrections, when
needed, are possible. We are working to build a community where People of Color feel
welcome and where People of Color are involved in our congregations, and in the
business of the UUA. We are working to create an environment where People of Color
feel comfortable and supported in leadership positions. The messages that we receive let
us know where the Association is on the journey and when parts of the institution need to
be held accountable for making corrections that give us another chance at right
relationship.
Please Help Me With My Bags, Boston – At the GA in Boston, Massachusetts in 2003,
several People of Color reported being asked by White GA attendees to take their bags. This
happened at the curb where People of Color were spending time talking when White attendees
arrived, as well as by the Front Desk and Concierge.
Special Review Commission, Ft Worth - Prior to the 2005 GA in Ft Worth, Texas, the
DRUUMM Youth of Color Leadership Development Conference (a partnership with IdBM and
the UUA Youth Office) was held. At that time, several incidents internal to the First UU Church
of Dallas, Texas, which hosted the conference and externally with city police were reported. The
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experience of these incidents carried over into GA the following weekend in which additional
negative racial encounters occurred, culminating in a conflict at the Closing Ceremony, Sunday
evening. A special meeting of People of Color was called by DRUUMM leadership where a
litany of experiences were discussed, and the discussion video taped. After GA the UUA Board
of Trustees and UUA Administration established a Special Review Commission to “review the
trajectory of events…identify learnings about the structures of racism and ageism…and to focus
on institutional learnings.”73 The five member commission, including current President of
DRUUMM Janice Marie Johnson, two other DRUUMM members Hafidha Acuay and Rachel
Davis, LUUNA co-founder Rev. Jose Ballester and White retired minister Rev. Margaret Keip
met over 8 months to prepare a final report delivered to the April 2006 UUA Board of Trustees
meeting. The commission interviewed several dozen persons in preparing the report, although
little of this was made public in the 25-page report. Instead, a comprehensive timeline was
developed stretching back to the beginning of Unitarian and Universalist consolidation in 1961.
The report concluded with a list of recommendations, focused primarily on GA structure,
beginning and ending with a call for nametag wearing, and issued a vague reminder that we are
responsible to “preserve and live by our covenants and to uphold and maintain the ideals of our
Unitarian Universalist faith.”74 The Special Review Commission is very unique, as there is no
other record of such a high level group being called together in response to racism in the UUA.
In truth, it is a testament to the growth and establishment of a collective of People of Color who
were able to hold and listen to the experiences of one another that helped lead to this action.
This institutional response is not a complete response, notes Rev. Chester McCall, a Chaplain for
DRUUMM, who urges us to respond to the individuals who have been dehumanized by the
experience.75
To help illustrate the challenges and opportunities for race relations, and ultimately an
increased presence of People of Color in our congregations, let us hear selected responses to the
question: “Do you perceive barriers in our Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities
that prevent Persons of Color from joining? If so, what are your opinions of this condition?”
Racial Barriers in UU Congregations
Overwhelmingly, People of Color surveyed believe there are barriers in congregations for
People of Color. Many expressed the linkage to other forms of institutional oppression and
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cultural conditions of congregations, in particular the higher economic and educational class
levels, that point to a difficulty in welcoming and authentically accepting People of Color, and
others. There is also some attention to the fact that congregations, through religious professional
leadership or laity, are ineffective in redressing these barriers, due to a lack of preparation,
training, vision and courage. The responses shared below are meant to be representative of the
total collection. Ideally these responses will help both the reader, and ultimately the institution,
gain more clarity into the nature of the barriers, and from this diagnosis, determine more
successful and precise initiatives to address the situation.
Do You Perceive Racial Barriers In Your Congregation?
Yes
No
Unsure/No Church
85.71%
10.99%
3.30%
Those Who Answered “Yes” (85.71%)
“Yes. Affluence is a serious barrier on a number of different levels. Class, education, and
social mores separate the vast majority of ethnic minorities from our typically affluent
congregations. People of color have a difficult time relating to everything we do. This
must change.”
“At first yes, because often times people speak of being accepting of blacks, gays,
transgender people, etc….. and they talk about being liberal-minded but their individual
lives outside of what they profess do not reflect this so when people of color or other
cultures visit they are welcomed, but not embraced if you know what I mean.”
“I've seen social elitism where people socialize with their equals. We don't advertise
other than in the yellow pages, there is very little community outreach.”
“People in our congregation tend to socialize with people they already know, so it is
difficult for new prospective members to feel welcomed on more than a superficial basis.
Though our congregation is a relatively “welcoming” congregation, most do not make
any sustained effort to connect with “newcomers,” regardless of color.”
“There are always barriers. UU congregations and communities may
politically/religiously/culturally be more progressive than many others in the U.S., but
this does not always translate into knowledge, understanding and acceptance of others. I
heard about the incident at the last GA in Texas where it was assumed by some Anglo
UU’s that a group of youth of color were valets because of skin color…we have a long
way to go. UUs are a part of this society, and there are a great many divisions along class
and race that we are clearly not confronting. I would not expect UUs to somehow be
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immune to all this. Structural/institutional racism and discrimination affects all of our
perspectives, actions, attitudes, and beliefs since it pervades this society.”
“Absolutely, and that is one reason I believe the Journey to Wholeness is a great move on
the part of the UU Church. The advent of both the People of Color and the White
Alliance caucus will begin to make a difference. If UU haven’t already, let’s add the
writings of People of Color and not only the Transcendentalist. Frederick Douglas,
Harriet Tubman, Sitting Bull, Seneca and Black Elk, Lao Tzu, Ram Dass, Krishna
Murtha etc. – let’s revisit our history of 1840-1870 - let’s talk about what else was going
on during the Transcendentalist Movement. Like the genocide of the Native Americans in
the West, Slavery in the South, U.S. Mexican War and what it was like for “civilized
man” during Thoreau’s and Emerson’s time. What were the Child Labor Laws and
Women’s Rights during that time as well. What made the Transcendentalist Movement
occur? It just didn’t spontaneously generate. Personally, I believe the Unitarians were a
response to the times. The white man had become divorced from Nature because of
“civilization.” The U.S. Government was doing horrible things in the name of Jesus
Christ and their Christian God.”
“I think that we as UUs have a very specific cultural experience in general. The majority
being white, middle to upper middle class folks, with liberal political views. Because we
don’t have a “let’s save the whole world” attitude, we have a fairly exclusionary mindset
to begin with. In practice, not on paper. I think we’re rather xenophobic, across many
cultural, class, racial, lines, but especially race. The growth of female ministers, for
instance, has highly out lapped, many, many times over the population of ministers of
color.”
“I think that Anti-Racism work functions to assuage White guilt in many places, and so
when People of Color come into a Church, they are often asked to join several
committees they are not qualified and do not have the capacity to sit on. No one has any
real clue on how to be in community with the People of Color in a Church, so those who
come often get “burned out” and frustrated with continually being treated very differently
from the mass of the community. On the other side of things, some congregations do not
deal with race at all. This is just as bad, because the Person of Color feels just as excluded
from the community and more unwelcome.”
Those Who Answered “No” (10.99%)
“No barriers, it is one of letting those seeking a liberal religion know we exist. One of
the things that came out of a recent discussion about religion is UUs are almost alone in
encouraging their members to question their beliefs.”
“To speak of "barriers" presupposes a certain frame of thought. It assumes that something
within UU churches prevents outsiders from coming in and that all we have to do is
remove that impediment and people will flock in. But is that really the case? And to get
the most use out of the barrier metaphor, should we not also be asking if any barriers
exist in non-UU circles, outside of UU control, that prevent people from stepping out of
their group and into a UU church?”
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“The issues here are complex. It is difficult even to determine what all the issues are, and
equally difficult to determine what can be done about them. We know there is a
correlation between UU churches and low racial diversity, i.e., when you find the former,
you're likely to also find the latter. But we do not know if one causes the other, or if it is
the other way around, or even if other outside factors are causing both. In my own
experience, I have always felt welcomed in my church. To be precise, I know what it
feels to be socially rejected by a group of people, and I have never experienced that
feeling in my church. On the other hand, I can not say that my church is particularly
"warm" to new comers. Again, to be precise, in my previous religious affiliation, we were
taught to go out of our way to act friendly to visitors, to find ways to draw them into our
groups, and to constantly try to make them feel "as one of us." That is not something that
spontaneously happens in my current church, despite recent efforts to behave in a more
welcoming manner. How do I reconcile these two seemingly disparate conditions? I'm
not sure. In part the answer lies in me. Going to new places and introducing myself to
new people does not intimidate me. In part, the answer also lies with the church, because
even though they're not overly open, once I introduced myself to them they were quick to
accept me. Another component was the availability of alternatives, or rather the lack of
them. I wanted to find a "church community," not a club or an interest group. But I
required one that was intellectually open, one that would embrace science, rather than
reject it. And I felt, rightly or wrongly, that the UU church was my best option.”
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Chapter VII: People of Color Communities (1980-2005)
Most of the UUA, congregations and affiliate organizations have a growing
consciousness of People of Color. They are referred to formally in affirmative action policies,
job announcements, strategic plans, and sermons. With an estimated 5% of the adult population,
there are perhaps as many as 10,00076 Persons of Color, and the number may well be over 20,000
in the religious education programs as anecdotal reports lean heavily towards more racial and
cultural diversity among our children and youth. DRUUMM, profiled below, is the only group
that has ever been organized by and for Persons of Color in an inclusive sense encompassing
more than a singular racial/cultural identity and being explicitly conscious and political as a
collective in mission and purpose. These short histories that follow are intended to emphasize
promising People of Color ministry efforts, and to provide a better understanding of the
landscape within Unitarian Universalism for People of Color.
African-American Unitarian Universalist Ministries (1989-1998)
African-American Unitarian Universalist Ministries or AAUUM (pronounced ‘a-oomm’) received its birthing breath in the wake of the UUA’s 1981 Institutional Racism audit.
African descent ministers and religious professionals were called together in 1987 to help the
UUA establish one of the audit’s recommendations: an affirmative action policy and plan. Two
Black Unitarian Universalists working on the issue, Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed and Jacqui James,
connected their small networks together and the idea was hatched. AAUUMM, in their June
1989 press release announcing their formation, stated “AAUUM stresses spirituality, power and
justice as centerpieces of a ‘prophetic witness’ and distinguishes itself from mainstream UUs
saying that they view the African-American experience and heritage, as well as action for justice,
as part of the ‘essential feelings and values’ which shape their spirituality.”77 AAUUM had
officer positions, held an annual meeting and was heavily active in North American UUA
activities. At its height in the early 1990s, the organization had a membership of over 100, and
would arrange to have members lead the worship at area congregations during its annual
meeting. AAUUMM struggled with how to deal with issues of gender and sexual orientation,
and was experiencing a leadership vacuum by the late 1990s at the same time AAUUM leaders
were coordinating with other “Persons of Color” to found DRUUMM in 1998. AAUUM leaders
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expressed intentions of becoming a caucus for persons of African descent within DRUUMM,
partnering with other founders of Color who were creating a Latino/a/Chicano/a/Hispanic of
Color caucus, an Asian/Pacific Islanders caucus, and a Native American/Indigenous caucus
among others. Jacqui James, now retired, is acknowledged as having the most institutional
memory about AAUUM, most of it as oral stories. Jacqui was a long-time religious professional
as Director of Religious Education in Pittsburgh, PA, and on the UUA Staff for over 20 years in
Boston, MA. Little has been published about AAUUM outside of a few references in sermons,
GA Reports and a brief announcement in the UU World.
Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (1997- )
Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist
Multicultural Ministries, or DRUUMM was the name a group
of over forty ministers, religious educators, and UUA Staff of
Color, who called themselves “UU Religious Professionals of
Color” or “UURPOC” adopted a year after their first gathering,
underwritten by the Fund for Unitarian Universalism, in Los
Janice Marie Johnson
Gatos, California, Spring 1997. Rev. Tony Dubon, currently
(credit: Santos-Lyons)
of Colorado, was elected Chair, although he was unable to complete his first year in office. The
2nd major gathering of DRUUMM a year later met concurrently with the final AAUUM meeting
in Tampa, FL. AAUUM ceded the spotlight to the new multiracial “People of Color”
organization in Unitarian Universalism, collaborating with persons of Asian/Pacific Islander,
Native American/Indigenous, Latino/a/Chicano/a, and biracial and multiracial persons of Color.
The group formed with an emphasis on supporting religious professionals of Color (initial goals
here from founding documents). At GA 2000 in Nashville, TN, where DRUUMM holds its
annual business meeting, the by-laws were changed to admit lay persons of Color, in part due to
pressure from youth and young adults. Youth and young adults of Color, who were organized
with the help of AAUUM members Kristen Jewett (now Rev. Kristen Harper) and Danielle
Gladd, as well as activist youth of Color Layla Rivera and Alyce Gowdy-Wright, had been
receiving DRUUMM sponsorship for several years for an annual conference. After DRUUMM
opened its mission and organization, both to minister and advocate for all persons of Color,
Youth and Young Adults became one of the first caucuses in 2001. In 2003 a group of over 30
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Asian/Pacific Islanders formed another DRUUMM caucus,
and in 2004, 24 seminarians of Color received permission
to identify as a DRUUMM caucus. Efforts continue to
form a Latino/a caucus, named “La Familia,” and an
African descent caucus under the leadership of James
Backman of New York City’s All Souls Church. Currently
DRUUMM is the most active public organization for Unitarian Universalists who identify as
2005 DRUUMM YaYA Steering
Committee (credit: Santos-Lyons)
persons of Color. There is past and present conflict
between several members of DRUUMM and the Latino/a
UU Networking Association or LUUNA, specifically among religious professionals around the
terminology and meaning of “Person of Color.” DRUUMM has no permanent staff, a minimal
budget gleaned from the UUA’s financial commitment to supporting Persons of Color in
congregations, and a large steering committee that meets once or twice each month by
teleconference to conduct operational management. In the nine year history of the organization,
only 3 face to face meetings of the steering committee have been held outside of GA and the
Annual DRUUMM Conference which began in 2002 and has been held over Veteran’s Day (US)
weekend at Murray Grove Conference and Retreat Center in New Jersey. The website is
regularly updated, and a number of listservs exist for racial/cultural caucuses including a
Multiracial People of Color caucus, leadership teams, and identity groups such as Queers and
Professionals of Color. DRUUMM has received consulting services from the UUA for
leadership development and conference programming.
DRUUMM Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus (2003- )
The A/PI Caucus of DRUUMM has the following
mission statement: to build a safe and sacred community
among UU members who identify as Asian and Pacific
Islander, Hapas or Asian Adoptees.
To this end, we pledge to:


minister to one another's needs
support one another in our spiritual journeys as A/PI
UUs in our UU faith communities
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Sharmila Khare, A/PIC Steering
Committee Member
(credit: Santos-Lyons)
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



strengthen the caucus's roles and linkages within UU Congregations to effectively
advocate for our needs within the UUA
help improve and enhance existing anti-racism work of the UUA by sharing with others
our A/PI perspective and experiences
work in synergy with DRUUMM and other identity-based caucuses to collectively
identify and transform the structures of oppression towards an equitable, inclusive and
just community
provide authentic cultural resources for the UUA78
How A/PIC began by member Young Kim:
The idea for a group of Asian and Pacific Islanders Unitarian Universalists began to
bounce around in my head in 1993, when I was a member of the First Unitarian Church
of San Jose (CA). At that point I received exposure to the UUA’s antiracism efforts,
which approached the issue from a Black/White perspective. While useful, I found this
Black/White-only concentration to be frustrating, as my own experiences seemed to have
a unique twist. The stereotypes that I had to deal with were different. I wasn’t getting the
“thug” or “terrorist” label stuck to me. What I was getting was “foreigner” or “geek” or
“sweatshop laborer.” I also found that many UUs seemed to believe that Asian
Americans didn’t experience racism.
I decided to do something about it at the 2001 GA in Cleveland. I told all my friends to
look for any Asian faces, get their names, and forward them to me. For my first “Asian
sighting,” I saw Kok Heong McNaughton riding down a hotel escalator as I was going
up. I ran up the escalator, ran back down, and caught up with Kok Heong outside the
hotel. I blurted out: “Excuse me … are you a UU?” My wife ran into Mark Watanabe,
who told me about a charming delegate from Oakland – Karen Eng. I also traded message
board messages with Vivien Hao. Our first meeting was right at the message boards at
that GA. Three of us sat on some rusty folding chairs by the message boards, and talked
about our experiences. I didn’t know Mark and Karen very well, but I felt a strong bond
right from the beginning.
Later that summer I called Robette Dias, one of the founders of DRUUMM and a UUA
staffer at the time. I asked her to give me the email address for every Asian or Pacific
Islander UU that she knew. Armed with about 35 new email addresses, I took a deep
breath and fired off an email into the internet ether. People answered, and Joseph SantosLyons set up the email list serve.
Our second meeting at the GA in Quebec had better attendance. Twelve UUs came, and
we talked about the need for a national meeting. I requested and received grant funding
from the UU Funding Program and in February of 2003 the A/PIUU Caucus met for the
first time in Berkeley, CA.
After that meeting I stepped back from leadership and then A/PIC really started to take
off. I am thrilled to see what A/PIC has accomplished under the leadership of Kim [ ],
Manish [] and Jennifer []. I am even more excited to see fresh leadership stepping up to
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the plate – a sure sign of a healthy and self-perpetuating organization. And we’ve only
just begun to scratch the surface, because more Asian and Pacific Islanders here and
abroad need to hear the good news of our liberating faith.79
Latino/a Unitarian Universalist Networking Association (1996- )
Julio Noboa was quoted in a New York Times article on the growth of Latinos
in major cities and the potential for Latinos to be “drawn to a liberal, nonauthoritarian faith.” Soon after, there was an interview in the March/April 1995
UU World issue with Noboa, a member of the UUA Committee on Urban
Julio Noboa
(credit: The World)
Concerns and Ministry and adult learning chair at First UU Church in San
Antonio, Texas. Latino/as began to organize visibly in the UUA after the short
UU World profile in which Noboa suggested that “outreach to the Latino community should
have four components: developing a strategic plan to attract Latinos to the denomination;
educating UUs about Latino history and concerns; sharing aspects of Latino spiritual journeys
that can enrich UU theology; and the bearing of witness, by Latinos, to UU principles and
practices in their communities.”80 LUUNA came into existence the following year after the
1996 Urban Ministry Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, where a small group of Latino/as
met and organized81. The bylaws were drafted later that year and adopted December 2, 1996, as
“a multicultural continental association of Unitarian Universalists dedicated to:
1. Attracting more Latina/os to our Unitarian Universalist tradition and enhancing their
participation within it by providing support, guidance, fellowship and advocacy.
2. Educating the larger Unitarian Universalist community about Latina/o history, culture
and diversity; and facilitating Unitarian Universalist involvement in current issues that
affect the various Latina/o communities.
3. Sharing aspects of Latina/o spiritual heritage, personal journeys and emerging UU
Latina/o Liberation Theology with the larger Unitarian Universalist community thus
enriching the worship, mission, and spirituality of our chosen faith.
4. Interacting with the Unitarian Universalist Association and other Unitarian Universalist
organizations in order to enhance the justice-making abilities of LUUNA and the
aforementioned organizations.
5. Interacting with other justice-making and multicultural organizations in order to bring
about effective social change within our Unitarian Universalist movement so that it can
truly become multicultural and empowering of traditionally marginalized and underrepresented communities.” 82
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Membership in LUUNA is not restricted to Latina/os, and they have been clear that they are
not a People of Color organization. However People of Color are welcome to join and
participate in the business of the organization. At the 1998 Urban Ministry Conference in
Baltimore, LUUNA members released a collection of articles entitled the “Baltimore Papers,”
which helped define in detail positions and concerns of LUUNA. Presently, LUUNA has
nominal public presence, with no website, email listserv, or membership gatherings outside of an
annual meeting at GA. They continue to be recognized as an affiliate organization of the UUA
with a listing in the UUA Directory. Rev. Jose Ballester is the contact for the organization,
although there is no information available, from the UUA or otherwise, as to the officers or
steering committee members.
Since 2001, LUUNA has been successful in advocating for the UUA staff position dedicated
to Latino/a concerns, the job initially being held by Marta Valentin 83and now by Rev. Sophia
Craethnenn. The staff were located in the newly formed Identity Based Ministries Staff Group
of the UUA, directed by Taquiena Boston, a former Faith in Action Department Anti-Racism
Associate out of Washington, D.C. While this position is not directly accountable to LUUNA,
there is a symbiotic relationship as both share Latino/a concerns within Unitarian Universalism.
Little documentation in detail is available about the UUA staff work around Latino/a concerns
except for the few sentences in the GA Annual Reports. A survey was attempted in 2003-2004,
and several intentional gatherings of Latino/a descent persons at GA outside of the LUUNA
Annual Meeting have taken place, but no record of history is available publicly. At the 2004
GA, the new UUA office was formally named the Office of Latina/o and Hispanic Concerns and
went by the nickname “LaLoHip.” The three sentence staff report in 2004 stated: “LaLoHip
completed a survey focused on how congregations can become more welcoming to Latinas/os
and Hispanics. Survey results are being used to develop information on “How to Be More
Welcoming to Latinas/os and Hispanics,” and a workshop with this theme was presented at
several District Annual Meetings in Spring 2004. In addition, LaLoHip has been involved in the
publication of several bilingual Spanish/English worship resources.”84 The 2005 Staff Report
includes no details about the work of this office, except the vision of seeking to make the UUA
“more welcoming, inclusive, empowering and just”85 for Latino/a and Hispanics, in part due to a
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period of vacancy when Valentin left the position and before Craethnenn began in September
2005.
UU Network on Indigenous Affairs (1992- )
The UU Network on Indigenous Affairs, or UUNIA, is an
advocacy organization for issues of First Nations Canada and
American Indian/Native American concerns. It is not a caucus of
persons of North American Native descent, although several of
the leaders identify as Native American/First Nations. Longtime board member and spiritual mentor Benjamin Pease died in
2003, leaving a powerful void in the organization. Pease was a
Benjamin Pease (credit: The World)
member of the Crow Nation in Montana, whose parents and
grandparents were converted to Unitarian Christianity. The peak
of UUNIA work was in the mid 1990s, specifically under the coordination of Helen Henry of
Denver, Colorado who worked on UUNIA affairs out of the local American Friends Service
Committee office. After GA 1997 in Phoenix, UUNIA and DRUUMM coordinated a pilgrimage
to the sacred San Carlos Apache site Dzil Nchaa Si An or Mt. Graham with local leaders. A
multiracial group of 20 attended, witnessed and advocated for the retention of the lands in the
face of massive scientific development by a consortium of universities. They were buoyed by a
resolution passed by the GA entitled “Solidarity with the San Carlos Apache Regarding Mt.
Graham” as an Action of Immediate Witness. Currently a White Minister, Robert Thayer, is
identified as the contact for UUNIA, and while little has happened over the last two years, a
pilgrimage to Cahokia, the largest city north of Mexico before the 18th century, is planned during
GA 2006. This event is being planned by Thayer and Frank Carpenter of the UU Historical
society.86
UU Ministers Association
The UU Ministers Association or UUMA is one of the most powerful independent
organizations within UUism with a membership of over 1,000 ordained clergy. There continue
to be very few people who identify as persons of Color in the UUMA, and the handful that are
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constituents are heavily involved in UUA and internal committees related to anti-racism/antioppression and multiculturalism. It is a heavy and profound responsibility, particularly for
newly minted ministers, adding anxiety and potential dissatisfaction to a demanding and lowpaid profession. It is also chronic and at times debilitating for those ministers of Color who have
been leaders for so long without any reprieve. Burnout and frustration have been noted
regularly, and there still is no significant, consistent and meaningful community for ministers of
Color as a whole within the UUMA. There is a two-year old Hispanic Ministry Caucus, and a
handful of ministers of Color sit on the Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Multiculturalism
Committee. Little has been made public as to the UUMA’s commitment to creating community
and support for ministers of Color since the 1998 Journey Towards Wholeness Anti-Racism
Stakeholders Meeting in Kansas City. There are presently about 50 ministers who identify as
persons of Color or racial/cultural minorities distinct from White/European-descent persons. Of
these, only a dozen are serving UU congregations.
UUA Board of Trustees
The #1 recommendation (of 25) of the 1981 UUA Racism Audit Team, led by Rev.
Horace Seldon at the call of the UUA Board and President, reads, Increase the number of People
of Color on the UUA Board of Trustees. Mechanisms suggested: increasing the number of atlarge Trustees or reserving two of the current at-large seats for People of Color. By a vote of 8
to 15, an effort to institutionalize this
recommendation was defeated in April 1981. In
October 1981, the Board considered three more
resolutions that (1) encouraged districts to adopt
affirmative action perspectives wherever possible
with regard to the selection of future district
trustees, adopted by a vote of 20-3 (2) encourage
Leon Spencer and Ione Vargas (credit: Santos-Lyons)
the Nominating Committee to always include at
least one person of color among its nominees for the Board, which failed 8-11 with three
abstentions and (3) encouraging the Nominating Committee and Committee on Committees to
adopt affirmative action perspectives, which passed 18-3 with one abstention. Since 1981, there
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are seven persons who have or are identified as People of Color who have served : Damas
Taylor, Norma Poinsett , William Jones, Leon Spencer, Tamara Payne-Alex, Adele SmithPenniman, Jazmin Sandoz-Rosado and Charles Redd have served on the Board, with only three,
Redd, Spencer and Smith-Penniman coming from a District constituency, the rest serving in atlarge seats. Currently the Board has only one member who identifies as a Person of Color,
Payne-Alex, and one who identifies as Hispanic or Latino but not as a Person of Color, Jose
Ballester, who won an at-large seat in 2001.
Young Religious UU
Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) was founded out of the ashes of the
Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) in 1982 after the second LRY Continental Conference at
Macalaster College in Minnesota. LRY, which has two notable histories written about it, Follow
the Gleam by Wayne Arnason87 published in 1980 and We Would Be One also by Arnason with
Rebecca Scott88 as an updated and revised 2005 version makes virtually no mention of persons
of Color in LRY or YRUU. Continental YRUU began supporting community for youth of Color
in 1998 collaborating with the 4-year-old Young Adults of Color Network sustained by funding
and facilitation from the UUA Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry. Several youth,
notably Layla Rivera who was a keynote speaker for the 1996 Youth Focus GA in Indianapolis,
IN, were now young adults and helped to bridge the community building and provide leadership.
1998 also marked the first ever Youth and Young Adults of Color Conference held at the
Northwest Atlanta Congregation in Georgia in the fall. In 2001, the YRUU Steering Committee,
a continental body, established a People of Color Advisory Committee of three members,
originally selected by an all-White Steering Committee but since by a multiracial group that has
been marked by complications and inconsistency in process and vision. In addition, a People of
Color Caucus was established for the annual continental Youth Council, a group of six to ten
youth who are appointed and funded by YRUU. The first self-identified Person of Color to work
in the Youth Office is Joo Young Choi (formerly Lily Sparks) of New Hampshire in the spring
of 2005. Marissa Gutierrez was hired three months later and the two currently work together
concurrently at the Boston UUA Office. Several dozen youth of Color have been in leadership
within YRUU over the last four years, many of them coming from the first Youth of Color
Leadership Development Conference held before GA 2003 in Boston. The YRUU Steering
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Committee, which previously had one or zero youth of Color, now consistently has four or five
members who are people of color. These include the first adult of Color, Tony Brumfield, who
has served on the steering committee since 2002.
Continental UU Young Adult Network
The Continental UU Young Adult Network, or C*UUYAN, was founded in 1985 by a
group of ex-Continental Youth leaders. Over the next 10 years, there is no record of a
community of young adults of color within C*UUYAN, nor engagement organizationally with
issues of racism. In 1995 the Office of Young Adult Ministry (as it was known then, now it is
Young Adult and Campus Ministry), under the leadership of Donna DiSciullo sponsored
meetings at GA for young adults of Color. Led initially by Kristen Jewett, Danielle Gladd and
Alyce Gowdy-Wright, a group of young adults age 18-35 grew relatively informally to have a
database of over 100. The Ferment newsletter, published from 1994 to 2000, and jointly
produced with C*UUYAN, had a regular column entitled “Shades of UU” written by members
of the Young Adults of Color Network. At the primary spiritual conference, Opus, from 1996 to
2005 there have been an increasing number of People of Color present, and beginning in 2000 a
People of Color caucus has been held during Opus and ConCentric, the annual business meeting
adjacent to Opus. There have been between a half a dozen to as many as twenty present. As of
2000, C*UUYAN leadership has made public statements of support for the development of
DRUUMM Young Adults of Color, and has begun to act intentionally about the growing
presence of People of Color at events and in leadership. Expressions in Color, a pre-Opus retreat
for young adults of color, started in 2005 as a way to draw together a community and establish a
space to reflect on Unitarian Universalism and C*UUYAN
from a People of Color perspective. Currently C*UUYAN
does not have a formal role in organizing People of Color.
This falls primarily to staff in the Office of Young Adult and
Campus Ministry which partners with C*UUYAN and
DRUUMM to serve young adult People of Color and antiracism efforts in congregations and at large. Programs such
as the DRUUMM Youth and Young Adults of Color
Conference, the Young Adults of Color Leadership
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Development Conference, and activities at GA for Young Adults of Color have received
volunteer and financial support from C*UUYAN.
District People of Color Efforts (see map on previous page)
There have been conferences, meetings and communication between People of Color in
the following UUA Districts: Mass Bay, Clara Barton, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest,
Pacific Central, Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Priestley, Metro New York. This represents 8 of the
20 UUA Districts. There has been no known community building among People of Color in the
Canadian Unitarian Council. There has not been an official standing organization of People of
Color affiliated with any UUA district. The vision and action has been initiated or shared with
UUA staff and DRUUMM leadership. Between 1999 and 2002 six DRUUMM Multiracial &
Families of Color retreats were held across the three western districts with sponsorship by the
district’s religious education committee. There have been no retreats planned since the UUA
Faith in Action Department was disbanded. Presently only Mass Bay, Joseph Priestley and
Thomas Jefferson have gathered People of Color together in the last year.
Congregational People of Color Ministries
Over the last 25 years there is little evidence of People of Color meeting intentionally in
congregations, and tracking down this information is difficult for several reasons. First is that
the UUA Administration and Board do not mandate the census of racial/cultural diversity in
congregations. Nearly all other mainstream religious denominations do record this data.
Without this information, it is not only extremely hard to support efforts at ministry to and with
People of Color, but it is very difficult to recognize the racial/cultural diversity present. This
problem is magnified given the repeated UUA commitment to racial and cultural diversity, as
mandated by the 1992 UUA GA. A major block to much of this is the reluctance—to outright
rejection—of any census strategy that asks religious professionals to count People of Color in
their congregation. This was discussed in depth by the UUA Anti-Racism Core Organizing
Team in 1999 when seeking to identify Persons of Color in congregations. The tactic that was
used at that time was to place a 4 page insert into an edition of the UU World print magazine.
Over 600 responses came back, although this data has since been missing and unutilized since
the termination of the UUA Faith in Action Department in 2002.
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UU congregations have evidently had Black Concerns Working Groups, which likely
came out of the 1960s and 1970s when Black membership in UU congregations rose during the
civil rights era. While there is no directory of groups or database of persons, a GA Resolution in
1985 called for the establishment of continental, district and local Black Concerns Working
Groups, of which only the continental working group, later renamed the Jubilee Working Group,
has any substantial documentation.
The first reported People of Color or DRUUMM group was at First Church of San
Diego, in 2002. An offshoot of ongoing anti-racism efforts and thanks in large part to the
leadership of Tony Brumfield and Chester McCall, this group of over a dozen People of Color
has met several times each year over the last three years. They identify as a DRUUMM chapter,
although no official policy exists within DRUUMM to recognize and support such entities. The
oldest group of People of Color over the last 25 years is the Oscar Romero fellowship within the
First Church of Los Angeles that is primarily Spanish-speaking. While they have not articulated
an identity as People of Color, they have partnered with DRUUMM and begun to speak more
intentionally with such notions. In 2004, the Oscar Romero fellowship, which number about 20,
DRUUMM and LUUNA, co-sponsored the guest engagement of Dolores Huerta at GA 2004 in
Long Beach, California. Huerta spoke both at the convention center and at the First Church LA.
Other People of Color groups have been meeting sporadically at All Souls DC, All Souls
New York, First Church Oakland, CA, Neighborhood Church in Pasadena, CA and Davies
Memorial in Prince George County, Maryland (which new African-American minister John T.
Crestwell reported has over 40 Black members). Each of these groups struggle with the
perception of being segregationist, although the core members and leaders are active in the life of
the congregation and worship. The group at All Souls NYC started as a support group for People
of Color, and All Souls DC has had a Latino caucus as well as a People of Color group. Few if
any of these churches have received sustained religious professional leadership, and are isolated
from one another. Several of the leaders have been very active in DRUUMM, Paula Cole Jones
at All Souls DC, James Coomes at Neighborhood Church, James Backman at All Souls NYC
and Tony Brumfield of First San Diego.
DRUUMM has identified developing local chapters as a priority and have asked for help
in creating a resource guide to assist persons in congregations. Currently nothing has been
published, however the initiative remains on the DRUUMM Steering Committee agenda.
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See Table 1: Racial Ideas Timeline 1980-2005 (see page 133)
Chapter VIII: Racial Ideas in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005
The understanding and practice related to race and racism have
consistently matured in the UUA over the last twenty five years. There have
been continuous efforts to develop a more comprehensive, nuanced, inclusive,
and justice-centered analysis. The forming and norming process has primarily
involved a critical engagement of People of Color, anti-racist activists, urban
ministry lay and religious professional leadership, and UUA staff. This has had
the effect of shaping a consciousness primarily at the associational level of the
David Eaton
(credit: The World)
UUA and affiliate organization leadership teams. This overview of the
development of racial ideas in the UUA is similarly focused on the continental, and now chiefly
national character of an understanding of race and racism.89
In this review, there are five periods of time at the association level that are easily marked
by encounters with race and racism that have initiated or continued serious attention to these
matters by UUA leadership. As with the Empowerment Controversy discussed earlier, the bulk
of these encounters involved the GA and the UUA staff. What is evident by this examination is
the constant reminder of the dynamic nature of race and racism, and the need to keep in front of
us the adage of Rev. Jones, “DDT: Diagnosis Determines Therapy”.
1980-1983: Post-Empowerment Controversy
By 1980, much of the dust had settled from the Empowerment Controversy, and UUA
Moderator Sandra M. Caron wrote the following to the UUA Commission on Appraisal in
October 1979:
I wonder if there would be any interest in the Commission in exploring the meaning of
the black empowerment era in the denomination. It swept through every denomination
and some responded more ably than others. I am curious as to how we stacked up.
Would that topic serve as a vehicle for exploring our whole approach to social action,
which is, in my opinion, a very much knee-jerk, ill-thought-out approach? ... I think the
difficulty goes very deeply into our organizational and thought process. 90
The late Paul Carnes, President in the UUA at the end of the Empowerment Controversy
who died suddenly during his first four year term, and his successor, Eugene O. Pickett, also had
urged the UUA to process this history. There was, however, no apparent encouragement from
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persons of African descent so intimately involved with the UUA, many of whom reportedly left
after the great walk-out in 1969 at the Boston GA, never to
All Souls Church, D.C.,
deserves special mention here,
given its place as one of the
flagship UU congregations
located in Washington D.C.,
and for their long efforts at
racial and cultural diversity.
All Souls owes much to
ministers A. Powell Davies,
David Eaton, and Duncan
Howlett, who, in the mid1900s, were forceful advocates
for civil rights. Early in the
civil rights struggle All Souls
was one of the very few places
in Washington available for
interracial meetings. The Rev.
Davies took the lead in the
movement
to
desegregate
public facilities in Washington.
The early desegregation efforts
provided the foundation for the
church's entry into the civil
rights movement in the 1950s
and 1960s.
Shana Goodwin, the current
associate minister, has a focus
on multicultural ministry –
growing the racial and ethnic
diversity of the congregation –
as part of her portfolio, along
with senior minister Rob
Hardies.
"Because
Washington, D.C., itself is
diverse, and because All Souls
has a legacy we were handed by
previous ministers, we have a
unique opportunity to be as
diverse as possible. That's at the
very front of our agenda," says
Goodwin. Fifteen to 20 percent
of All Souls friends and
members are people of color,
making it among the most
culturally diverse congregations
in the UUA. (Interconnections,
Jan ’06)
return. However, Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed, who was not
known to be active in the Empowerment Controversy, published
Black Pioneers in 1980 and referred to the Empowerment
Controversy as a source of his inspiration, and trepidation, in his
reasons for writing. Initially, he considered exploring the
controversy between the champions of integration and the
advocates of Black Power within the UUA, particularly after the
infamous Walkout in 1969 that he stated “almost tore the
Association apart.”91
Many UU ministers, such as Rev. Duncan Howlett, Rev.
Victor Carpenter and Rev. Jack Mendelsohn, were advocates as
well, in large part due to their continued individual engagement
with race and racism. Howlett was instrumental in preparing his
All Souls Church, Washington, D.C., to call an AfricanAmerican Minister, Rev. David Eaton in 1969. Howlett believed
that All Souls needed a young African-American as its new
leader given the racial demographic changes in All Souls due to
the urban flight of White families and the growing presence of
poorer African-American families.92 Eaton, who died in 1992
after a two-year battle with hepatitis B, was the first AfricanAmerican to serve as Senior Minister of a UU congregation.
Mendelsohn, active in FULLBAC and having served churches in
Chicago and Boston, who incidentally came in a close second to
Pickett in the election to replace the late Paul Carnes, was a
leader in the UUA’s Urban Ministry and Concerns efforts that
began as a response to mainly American urban crises in the early
1970s.
The UUA Commission on Appraisal committed to study
the issue after its meeting in January 1980, which it would do over the next four years,
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culminating in a published report, Unitarian Universalism and the Quest for Racial Justice:
1967-1983.
The report attempted to document the era, to place it in a historical context, and not to report on a
successful set of solutions, but rather to begin to “attempt to gather materials that may help the
UUs overcome a numbed and painful inaction, the end product of anguished, confused, and
conflicting years. There are, indeed, some successes, and some possible models of approach that
to the author’s knowledge have not been properly publicized. Perhaps even more important, this
report can help create understanding and reconciliation, from which may come determination for
a fresh start.”93
Concurrently, the UUA Board of Trustees voted at its April 1980 meeting to authorize
the UUA administration to contract with Community Change,
Inc., of Boston, to conduct an institutional racism audit of the
UUA, limited to the UUA central offices and association
leadership. This effort gathered quantitative and qualitative data
that was documented in a 59 page report presented to the UUA
Board in April of 1981. The report was not celebrated by the
UUA Board however, with a small majority voting to accept the
audit, 14-10 with one abstention. The audit report contained 32
carefully developed recommendations for the UUA, focusing on
the twin goals of addressing racism within the institution and
supporting efforts at racial and cultural diversity. These were published in The World, and
assessed briefly in the Commission on Appraisal report. In all, many of the recommendations
only survived as action items for a few years, others were tabled or ignored completely. The
UUA Board did, however, adopt a business resolution after accepting the report stating, “the
UUA shall seek to eliminate institutional racism,” establishing the first explicit commitment to
address racism within its own community.94 This resolution elicited intense debate centering on
the point that those dissenting felt that the word imperative was too strong.95 This leadership
hesitation continued over the next five years within the institution of the UUA as no more Boardinitiated anti-racism efforts took place.
During this period, the UUA opened itself up for self-reflection, and in nurturing these
efforts at historical research and institutional assessment, established a new level of foundational
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materials, ideas and strategies for race and racism. The Quest for Racial Justice illuminated the
issue of power, in particular the difficulty UUs felt in sharing power meaningfully with People of
Color, the potential for significant and accountable relationships with People of Color, and the
history of the Empowerment Controversy that influenced heavily the current thinking of UUA
leadership. The Institutional Racism Audit examined and described in detail the culture of the
UUA leadership and the attitudes of, opportunities, and barriers for People of Color. Both
publications touched on tensions within Unitarian Universalist theology, liberalism, rationalism
and individualism, which were cited as contributing factors to the complexity of race
relationships within the UUA. Finally, both provided conclusions and recommendations for next
steps.
The intense questioning and examination of history that led to the institutional and
cultural research of Unitarian Universalism provided powerful momentum that carried the UUA
into more advanced stages with respect to race relations. In general, the results of Black
Pioneers, Quest for Racial Justice, and the Institutional Racism Audit, built upon one another,
provided a solid, reasonable and historical foundation that continues to be built on today.
Through these publications and the ensuing debate and discussion, particularly among UUA
staff, lay and religious professional leadership, the conclusions and ideas discerned became a call
for new action.
Aside from the critical investigation and reporting on the history of the Empowerment
Controversy, and the even older history of the liberal Black Unitarian ministers documented by
Morrison-Reed, the significant change within the UUA conception of race was the intense
recognition that racism was a reality within the institution, not just a social ill that needed
responding to in society at-large. Black Pioneers highlighted this reality in 1980. The
Institutional Racism Audit, accepted by the UUA Board in 1981, made plain the lack of serious,
formal efforts to sustain a racially and culturally inclusive environment at the associational level,
and the need for clear institutional leadership coming to terms with racism. Indeed, there was
concern expressed about the lack of affirmative action policy and procedure within the UUA,
and in response to the audit team’s inquiry about such policy, one board member was quoted in
the final report as saying “we must not lower the standards,”96 implying not only ignorance of
the purpose of affirmative action, but also emphasizing a position of superiority of the virtually
all-White institutional leadership. Quest for Racial Justice, in 1983, referenced both of these
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publications and made the singular recommendation, aside from requesting that the GA 1983
accept its report, that the UUA Board “propose to the 1984 GA a new body, with appropriate
staff and funding, to begin a fresh response to the issues of racism, as a major priority for the
UUA.”97
Dr. Loretta J. Williams was hired in 1980 as UUA Director of the Section
on Social Responsibility. She perhaps best expresses the concern, from the
perspective of a Person of Color, for the need to rethink racism theologically, and
make a serious institutional commitment. She states:
Advocacy cast in racial terms is viewed more often than not in UU circles now as
a special pleading of an interest group whose moral claims for justice are more
ambiguous than they once were. What a travesty of principle of the UUA to
affirm, defend, and promote the supreme worth of every human personality!
Until sufficient resources, staff and financial, are earmarked for substantive
Loretta
development of multiculturalism within the UUA continent wide, Unitarian
Williams
Universalists will continue the pattern of rhetoric substituted for intentional
(credit: The
activity to combat racism within and without the UU movement. Fiscal support is
World)
vitally needed for creditable change efforts to occur.98
Racial ideas began to shift on many fronts as a result. Radical change institutionally
began developing a broader analysis of racism in comparison and in contrast with the notion of
prejudice. Quest for Racial Justice made clear the need to improve the understanding of race
prejudice, and individual, institutional and cultural racism. In particular, it noted in its study how
the psychology of racism in institutional life perpetuates conflict between Whites and People of
Color through the practices and policies of the institution.99 This is a significant development,
both in that it establishes a priority on understanding the systemic nature of racism, and
recognizes that White identity and White supremacy have a role and an institutional identity.
An attempt was made to shift the focus of racism from individual to institutional. Rev.
Jones’s work was incorporated to address victim blaming and purely victim-orientated racial
justice efforts, to turn attention to the underlying structural factors. This effort sought to
distinguish between a focus of concern on the objects or effects of prejudice, (i.e. symptoms),
and the root causes. Jones also criticized a simple focus on individual racism as being akin to
Social Darwinism, in that “it seems to support the concept that stronger and more advanced
racial groups will naturally triumph over the weaker and less civilized ones.”100 Addressing
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racism institutionally was seen as a more genuine way of attempting to solve the apparent
persistence of racism even within a self-proclaimed liberal institution such as the UUA.
At issue theologically, in this period, was an attempt to come to terms with the intense
individualism, rationalism and liberalism which manifested in the belief and practice of
tolerance. Quest for Racial Justice suggested, with the use of a quote from Beacon Press Author
and philosopher Herbert Marcuse, that “what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in
many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression.101 Tolerance, long an
article of faith for religious liberals, was not only something that Unitarian Universalists were
extremely proud of and acted upon, particularly around efforts at racial integration, but
something considered to be near sacred and difficult to criticize. The Commission on Appraisal
then asked, “What are Unitarian Universalists to think, then, when it is announced that racial
integration means racial disintegration, that what Unitarian Universalists have been serving is not
the cause of tolerance but the cause of intolerance, not generosity but selfishness?”102
The conflict centers on the paternalistic character of tolerance as practiced by the White
institution, and the belief by some, both Whites and People of Color, that there needs to be an
effort at empowerment with internal work to be done by Whites and by People of Color
separately in order to bring about authentic racial and cultural diversity. For some, “there could
be no compromising any of these principles, the ends do not justify abhorrent means,” with
respect to the wishes of People of Color, and in the case of the Empowerment Controversy, of
Blacks, to assert their own power and control without the superior authority of Whites. We can
also assume that the fact that the UUA had committed, yet never fully funded, one million
dollars ($1,000,000) to Black Unitarian Universalist caucus efforts only served to heighten the
sense of frustration and tension.
This remains an acute dispute twenty five years later, despite broader institutional acceptance
of People of Color caucusing at the associational level. The extreme belief in tolerance ignores
the relationship of the history of oppressor and oppressed, and the extent to which the oppressed
finds its power and strength to liberate themselves. Quest for Racial Justice stresses this point in
other Jewish and Christian theological traditions, such as the “view from the cross”, that those
who see most clearly from where they languish, suffer the sin of their oppressors that would
rescue them using imperfect means. This analysis of tolerance also draws upon Paolo Freire’s
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Pedagogy of the Oppressed, in which he writes “Only power that springs from weakness of the
oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both.”103
To what extent, of course, Unitarian Universalists were able to identify the “oppressed”
within their midst – and, thence, to identify with them – was and still is problematic. The
question of color to a religious association (UUA) that aspired to be color-blind rankled.
A large number of black and white religious liberals found the accusation that their highminded commitment to tolerance, integration, and the democratic process was “sinful,”
that it “missed the mark,” that it served the cause of oppression, specious and selfserving. They rejected it and deplored attempts made to establish a separate caucus of the
“oppressed” within the Association, arguing that such action was, for all its claims on
behalf of justice, merely a resort to sectarianism.104
The belief in tolerance in this light is further complicated by the intense individualism
considered to be supreme and vital to its practice. This limits the ability of corporate action,
particularly internal to the UUA institution and culture, even to address issues of oppression.
Freedom of individuals, championed by liberalism, combined with the massive social change
around segregation and integration in the 1960s and 1970s, clouded the waters and prevented
institutional efforts from listening to Unitarian Universalist People of Color about their
experiences in the church. The Unity-Unitarian congregational racism audit observed this
confusion, and subsequent inaction in their own history: “We chose not to grapple with the
tension between individual freedom and the need for an institutional commitment to confront
racism.”105
The issue of liberalism was picked up by a member of the Institutional Racism Audit
team, Lori Miola, a Unitarian Universalist who wrote a chapter entitled “The Liberal Syndrome.”
In it she recognizes the positive trends in liberalism, but takes on the factors that block the UUA
from racial justice, terming them the Liberal Syndrome. She addresses institutional attitudes and
behaviors that on the surface appear inclusive, but are effectively exclusive. She writes,
For instance, while talking about racism, many UUs assumed the liberal church to be
enlightened and, therefore, not needing to do any more in the way of action. Several
people report that liberals “welcome all views…all people” and then assumed that “we
don’t have to think about ‘color’ or ‘group…or inclusion.” This sense of “openness” or
enlightenment makes people feel comfortable with the situation as it currently exists.
The situation as it exists is clearly illustrated in the racial make-up of major decisionmaking boards and the UUA staff, which are overwhelmingly white…UUs love to
talk…and the endless debate, the semantics of looking for clarity, postpones action long
after sufficient data proves or disproves a point. There is something wrong when people
delay by waiting for more detail, more debate over issues which affect others so urgently.
Racism and inclusion of all peoples in our organization is in need of immediate action.
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Another behavior characteristic which is related perhaps to the “endless debate
syndrome” is the propensity toward intellectualism and the reluctance to deal with
“difficult” emotions. Nowhere in my professional interviewing experiences have I been
so aware of the difference between expressions of thought and expressions of feeling. In
our collective interviews, often questions about “feelings” of interviewers elicited
“thought” responses. To get to some feelings about racial issues demanded a skill that
could be referred to as “verbal dentistry.”106
Christine Murphy, who worked for the UUA Faith in Action Department and wrote her
Masters of Divinity Thesis on A History of Institutional Unitarian Universalist Anti-Racism:
1969-1997, made similar conclusions about the history leading into this period of time. She
notes the “dichotomy between individual action and institutional inertia”107 that needs to be
understood less the two become conflated to the detriment of positive institutional change. She
also remarks constructively on the “interconnection between oppressions” developing among
feminists, gay rights, anti-war and racial justice activists.108
In all, this period marked a critical inquiry into race and racism in the UUA, both
historically and in the current context. The emerging ideas of institutional racism, broadening of
those understood to be impacted by racism beyond African-Americans, the need to examine
White paternalism in addressing racism, and a call to listen to the experience of those affected
directly by racism are noteworthy and present in today’s dialogue on race in the UUA.
1984-1991: Racial Code Talking
Murphy writes that the anti-racism work began by the Black Unitarian Universalists in
the 1960s and 1970s was kept alive by the formation of the Urban Church Coalition in 1975, and
makes the claim that “Urban Concerns” became the new code word for anti-racism within the
UUA.109 Urban Ministry and Concerns, through UUA sponsored committees and with the
support of UUA staff, in addition to the religious professionals and lay leaders of urban churches
that were unable to escape the White urban flight of the decades before, continued in various
forms and fashions to deal with the issues involving their neighborhoods, including racism.
During this period, a number of advancements continued to be made with respect to how
race and racism were understood. Institutionally, primarily African-Americans became
organized through several associational efforts. In 1985, the GA passed a resolution establishing
a UUA Black Concerns Working Group (BCWG), and called upon congregations and districts to
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develop equivalent groups. This was the first formal attempt by the White UUA leadership to
gather People of Color in order to address institutional racism, in contrast to the Black Unitarian
Universalist-led efforts of the 1960s and 1970s. The BCWG signaled a change towards
education and training of UUs, predominately White UUs, in congregations through workshops
led by BCWG members. This is in sharp contrast to the 1960s Black UUs who were not
interested in training or educating White UUs around racism and instead sought to develop
autonomous Black communities, both UU and non-UU affiliated. The resolution was specific
about Blacks, and although failing to state an analysis of racism’s impact on People of Color
more broadly, it is important to note that a decade later the association level Black Concerns
Working Group changed its name to the Jubilee Working Group in direct response to a
consensus understanding of the effect of racism on all People of Color. The resolution in full
form states,
Establishment of a Black Concerns Working Group (1985)
WHEREAS, racism against Blacks is a pervasive social problem; and
WHEREAS, our denomination believes in the inherent worth and dignity of every
person, in the democratic process based on equality and freedom, and in the individual
right to enjoy all of our constitutional and other legal rights; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association has
recognized the presence of racism in our denomination, as evidenced in conclusions of
the Institutional Racism Audit; and
WHEREAS, our religious beliefs and our faith in the democratic principles impose upon
us an obligation to oppose racism wherever we find it, and we recognize that our efforts
to end racism against Blacks are also means of ending racism against all oppressed
people in our society;
BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1985 GA of the Unitarian Universalist Association
recommends that there be established a Black Concerns Working Group of the Social
Responsibility Section to assist in the implementation of the Report of the Task Force on
Racism as approved by the 1984 GA whose tasks shall be:
1. Helping Unitarian Universalist societies increase their awareness of racism and
showing them how to reach out to minority groups by:
a. providing educational material on the nature, causes, and consequences of
racism to be made available to individual members of every congregation;
and
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b. encouraging our societies, area councils and districts to establish Black
Concerns Subcommittees or to appoint individuals to deal with the issue
of racism as it pertains to individual societies both as a moral imperative
and as a means of creating an environment within our association more
inclusive of diverse races, cultures, and classes;
c. drawing upon and publicizing the experience and knowledge of individual
members of Unitarian Universalist societies who can contribute special
insights into the issue of racism;
2. Initiating and suggesting activities designed to influence our political leaders at
every level of government to eradicate racism whether imbedded in law or in
social custom or practice; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That this Assembly urges that an adequate budget be
established for the realization of the intent of this resolution.
Organizing of African-American UUs reached its peak after this resolution was passed.
African-American ministers held a conference at the Howard Inn in Washington, D.C., in
November 1988 with the goal of forming an organization “to carry out our purposes, among
which are the provision of an ongoing structure for communication with and support for one
another and the monitoring of the UUA in regard to its response to and involvement of AfricanAmericans.” In June 1989 this group issued a press release announcing the formation of
“African-American UU Ministries” (AAUUM) convened initially by Rev. William Jones, Rev.
Mark Morrison-Reed and Rev. Adele Smith-Pennimen.110 At the time of this formation, the
UUA had recently hired Rev. Mel Hoover and Religious Education Director Jacqui James, both
African-Americans, who were present at the founding and contributed significantly through their
positions as UUA staff. This support came especially in the areas of administration, record
keeping, communication and networking.111
The role Hoover stepped into changed dramatically during his nearly 15 years on the
UUA staff. Soon after being hired though, he moved into what may be considered the first
institutional anti-racism role in UUA history, as a Person of Color. He was given a “wide berth
to develop anti-racism activity” within the UUA, and reported to the UUA President Schultz
himself. With this development, a clearinghouse was established, both fulfilling one of the
recommendations of the 1981 Institutional Racism Audit, and allowing the work to be more fully
documented, processed and sustained as an institutional priority.112
From the vision, energy and partnership with the UUA established predominately by
Black ministers, the Black Concerns Working Group, and high-level Black volunteers and UUA
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staff, a number of new initiatives kept the development of racial ideas active. In particular,
attention to People of Color in the Ministry, not only African-American but also persons of other
racial/cultural backgrounds gained special recognition, thanks to the advocacy of AAUUM.
Rev. Diane Arakawa, of Asian descent, was recruited for UUA committees, serving terms on the
Ministerial Fellowship Committee and the Commission on Appraisal during this period.
Funding and support for new congregations and extension ministry were developed, seeding
nearly two dozen projects across the United States with the expressed goal of increasing the
UUA’s racial and cultural diversity. These were attempted in Korean, African-American, and
Latino/a communities intentionally.
The broadening understanding of race and racism, as extending beyond Black and White
persons, was evident in a 1986 UUA Board resolution deploring anti-Arab racism, and
culminated in the 1992 GA resolution on Racial and Cultural Diversity which asked the internal
diversity question with the support of a broad coalition of UU affiliate organizations and People
of Color. The next year, in 1993, GA passed the resolution Justice for Indigenous Peoples,
calling for significant action on behalf of Canadian First Nations and American Indians/Native
Americans that recognized the influence of racism upon their communities.
During this time an analysis of White identity and an explicit role for Whites in
addressing racism and racial and cultural diversity developed, with beginning efforts to name and
frame White privilege at the core. Then-UUA President William Schultz wrote an Open Letter
to White Unitarian Universalists in the 1988 World calling for the need for collective action by
Whites on racial and cultural diversity.113 Many White UUs, before and after Schultz’s call took
action during this time. Collectively, these centered primarily through the vehicle of Urban
Ministry; individually, they were numerous as congregations addressed South African apartheid,
American neo-colonialism in Central/Latin America, and responded to various racial hate crimes
in towns and cities across North America. Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs, formerly of the First UU
Church in Oakland, California deserves special mention here, in part for his role in mentoring
and assisting in the ministerial formation of a number of Ministers of Color, including Rev.
Yielbonzie Charles Johnson, Rev. William Sinkford, and Rev. Chester McCall. Eller-Isaacs was
also a member of the UUA’s Affirmative Action Task Force with Morrison-Reed, and of various
committees of the UUA’s Urban Ministry efforts. Now co-minister of the Unity-Unitarian
Church of St Paul, Minnesota, Rob and his co-minister and wife Janne, have strived to bring an
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anti-racism consciousness to the congregation, including establishing an Anti-Racism Leadership
Team. These institutional developments have been critical throughout the years in both
welcoming People of Color, and educating the larger White-majority congregation about the
realities and barriers racism engender. The role of the institutional team, working internally as
well as collaborating externally with a statewide coalition of churches engaging in anti-racism
work, is as follows:
Anti-Racism Leadership Team
The congregation of Unity Church-Unitarian commissioned the Anti-Racism Leadership
Team in January 2003. The ten-member team has participated in several training sessions
to learn about the power of systems and institutions with regard to race, as well as how to
function as a leadership team. They have crafted vision and mission statements to guide
them in their work and in spring 2005 they completed an institutional audit of the Unity
Church.
Vision Statement
Unity Church - Unitarian is an anti-racist community that is actively engaged in
dismantling racism both internally and in the wider community in a manner that is
accountable to communities of color.
Mission Statement
The mission of the Unity Church Anti-Racism Leadership Team is to lead the church in
developing and living out an intentionally anti-racist identity in all aspects of church life.
The team will seek opportunities to:


promote dialogue and learning within the church community about the origins and
functioning of systemic racism
integrate an anti-racist perspective into the identity documents, religious
education and member development curricula, worship service, and governance
of Unity Church114
It is apparent that during the decade after the Quest for Racial Justice, Black Pioneers
and the Institutional Racism Audit were published, attention to matters of racism stagnated
within the institution. Even with the establishment of the BCWG, considered to be the primary
institutional vehicle for addressing racism, funding was meager at best for their efforts. In the
first year of existence they were given the charge of “eradicating racism, both within the
denomination and beyond”, and a budget of $5,000 in 1985.115 Even with the UUA Board
renewing its interest, thanks to the strategic efforts of African-American UUs and their White
allies, there was general reluctance among the majority of institutional gatekeepers. While the
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BCWG eventually came to receive more substantial funding, and led approximately 20
workshops a year in local congregations with coordinative and administrative support from the
UUA staff, this has deteriorated since the dissolution of the Faith in Action department and by
2005, only three Jubilee One workshops were led.116
The endeavors, opportunities and successes during this time have little collected
documentation. This fact in itself reminds us of the subterranean nature of racial justice work of
the period. The use of code-talking in order to avoid the past conflict as well as to continue to
build racial justice efforts with a reluctant and even resistant community makes it even more
difficult to do a quality assessment. Much of the material, particularly related to the ethnic new
starts and extension ministry efforts, is available in unorganized pieces, without any analysis or
conclusions publicly available. This is distressing given the several hundred thousand dollars
allocated to the projects. Transparency appears to be a chronic problem within the UUA. The
UUA has funded and staffed well-intentioned and even well-planned programs to serve
institutional goals of racial justice, yet without the follow through of detailed reporting that
allows the next generation of leadership to learn from this history. There is also an opportunity
lost in not maintaining an accessible archive of this information, particularly if racial justice is
intended to be an institutional priority, which the evidence of decision-makers point to.
In 1991, a UUA staff group formed in 1989, to study the anti-racism initiatives of other
religious denominations, and after two years of work presented a UUA Ten-Year Plan to
Improve the Racial and Ethnic Diversity of Our UU Community, modeled loosely on the work of
the Lutherans.117 It sought to foster diversity work in all aspects of UUA life, and to "define and
develop an urban outreach plan including extension ministry; create new congregations which
are intentionally racially and ethnically diverse; and seek out and develop community-based
ministries that are intentionally racially and ethnically diverse," as well as "reckon with our
classism, as a movement."118 While the plan was functionally unrealistic, it did provide the
seeds for the historical 1992 GA Resolution for Racial and Cultural Diversity in Unitarian
Universalism.
1992-1997: A Question About Racial/Cultural Diversity
The 1991 UUA Ten Year Plan to Improve the Racial and Ethnic Diversity of Our UU
Community UUA Vision for Racial and Cultural Diversity was considered by the UUA staff as a
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potential business resolution to the 1992 GA held in Calgary, Alberta. However, in April, two
months before the GA, it was decided instead to be submitted as a report, entitled, “Long Term
Initiative for Racial and Cultural Diversity.119 Outgoing President William Schulz and
Moderator Natalie Gulbrandsen, presidential candidates John Buehrens and Carolyn OwenTowle, and Denny Davidoff, candidate for Moderator, showed their support of the initiative. In
response to the report, a group of UUA affiliate organizations presented a resolution to the GA
called “Racial and Cultural Diversity in Unitarian Universalism”. The delegates adopted the
resolution overwhelmingly.
RESOLUTION ON RACIAL AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY (1992)
WHEREAS President Schulz and Moderator Gulbrandsen have called on Unitarian
Universalists to support a vision of a Unitarian Universalist faith which reflects the
reality of a racially diverse and multicultural global village; and
WHEREAS the candidates for President and Moderator of this faith community stand in
solidarity with this vision; and
WHEREAS the Board of Trustees and staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association
have worked to bring this vision to life; and
WHEREAS the individuals in our congregations who bring our visions to life need a
process to articulate their concerns and ideas on how we can make this vision a
substantive reality; and
WHEREAS our first principle calls on us to affirm and promote the inherent worth and
dignity of every human being; and
WHEREAS this resolution was prepared by a coalition including the African-American
Unitarian Universalist Ministry, the Black Concerns Working Group, the Coalition of
African-American Unitarian Universalist Organizations, the Continental Women and
Religion Committee, the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, the Ministerial
Sisterhood of Unitarian Universalists, the Network of Black Unitarian Universalists, the
Society for the Larger Ministry, the Unitarian Universalist District Presidents'
Association, Unitarian Universalists for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, Unitarian
Universalists for a Just Economic Community, the Unitarian Universalist Service
Committee, the Urban Church Coalition, the Unitarian Universalist Women's Caucus, the
Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation, Young Religious Unitarian Universalists, the
Youth Caucus, and others;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the delegates of the 1992 General Assembly
of the Unitarian Universalist Association, affirm and support this vision of a racially
diverse and multicultural Unitarian Universalism;
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BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 1992 General Assembly urges the Board of
Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association to develop and implement a process
involving a broad representation of congregations, organizations, and staff to realize this
vision of a racially and culturally diverse Unitarian Universalist Association; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 1992 General Assembly of the Unitarian
Universalist Association call on the Board of Trustees to present to the 1993 General
Assembly a report of progress in research and planning to realize this vision of our faith
community.
This resolution generated another round of serious institutional self-examination around
race and racism, and again hunted for a strategy to the vision for an increase in the number of
People of Color in Unitarian Universalism. The resolution was essentially a big question to the
UUA, one that would not be answered for nearly five years. The UUA Board agreed to
implement a Task Force on Racial and Cultural Diversity, which met from 1993 until 1997,
culminating in their proposed answer, the 1997 GA Resolution Towards An AntiRacist/Multicultural UUA.
The work of the Task Force was substantial, with concurrent projects being implemented
by UUA staff. These included curriculum development, initiating, tracking and supporting
additional racial/cultural diversity projects in congregations, in part financed by the Whitney
Young fund. The Whitney Young Fund was established in 1982 for urban ministry, but its
mission changed in relationship to the UUA’s changing understanding of racial ideas and a
growing analysis of anti-racism and White privilege by the Task Force, the BCWG, and core
trainers and organizers, both experienced and new to racial justice work within the UUA.
The Task Force, established in October 1992, planned Racial and Cultural Diversity Days
for the 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 General Assemblies, gathered congregational and ministerial
information, developed a congregational assessment tool, conducted research, reported back to
each GA, and began the process for institutional change in UUA affiliate organizations,
congregations, and the UUA staff and board. Barbara Major, a New Orleans-based community
organizer and anti-racism trainer with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, was special
keynote speaker for Racial Justice Day in 1993 and 1994, introducing the idea of institutional
anti-racism transformation to the 1,000+ participants. In 1993, the focus was on getting people
to acknowledge there is a problem with racism, and this was done in part emotionally, thanks to
Rev. Morrison-Reed’s address in which at one point he “broke down in tears, apparently moved
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by the indignities suffered by African-American UUs, and Aler-Maida (who was co-presenting)
had to take over for him.” The post-GA September/October 1993 UU World reported that,
This was a pivotal movement, according to Deborah Weiner, director of Public Relations
and Marketing at the UUA, who says, “If Mark had not spoken and broken down, no one
would have had the success with the day that they had. People told me, ‘I really had
never understood that the issue affected people directly.’ Several said they were ashamed
that this was our history and knew they had to change.120
While it is welcome to see change in people, the experience of Morrison-Reed in front of
1,800 participants in 1993 underscores the prevalent idea in the UUA that People of Color are
required to share their most intimate and painful feelings in order for White persons to
understand the importance and impact of racism.
In 1994 the next step was to teach participants ways to understand racism institutionally
and take action to change the system.121 Small group ideas reported out in the
September/October 1994 UU World included “better support for UU ministers of color and
African-American ministerial students, sister church relationships with black congregations,
including urban/suburban relationships, antiracist religious education materials, district
antiracism workshops, and a Welcoming Congregation-like program to show churches how to
welcome people of color.”122 In 1996, the Task Force called upon congregations to come to GA
1997 prepared to discuss, debate, and take action on specific recommendations for dismantling
racism in the UUA and working for racial justice in our communities.
During this time, the UUA Office of Racial Inclusivity was renamed the Office of Racial
and Cultural Diversity, which according to the March/April 1995 UU World, found itself
“swamped with calls from congregations, districts and individual members who had been
inspired by the GA’s Racial Justice Day activities to seek out materials on fighting racism in
their communities. To handle the request, the UUA Board mandated the recruitment and training
of 24 volunteer racial justice resource managers. Volunteers will attend a three-day training
session, where they will receive a manual that answers commonly asked questions, a
congregational needs assessment questionnaire, a list of steps to take to become an antiracist
institution, and a comprehensive list of UU and non-UU resources.”123 Kathy Huff served as
contact on the UUA Staff in the Department of Social Justice.
The racial ideas around racism beyond Black and White, linkage of oppressions, White
privilege, institutional racism, and the need for comprehensive institutional support continued to
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strengthen, popularize, and become more widely accepted and adopted within the UUA.
Weaving the Fabric of Diversity, one of the only completed curriculums addressing racism, in
complement with other “isms,” made a point of dealing with the complexity of language, selfidentification, and the multiplicities of identities we claim. Challenges still persist however, as
in spite of broad based efforts and high profile activities at GA during this era. The problem of
racism is still understood primarily as a People of Color issue or problem, and the institution is
only beginning to pay attention to a concerted collective of People of Color, primarily AAUUM,
in seeking to develop an institutional response and strategy. Forward looking efforts at uniting
People of Color and providing consistent staff and financial resources are still lacking and lead to
minimal leadership development, stunting the potential growth of People of Color community
and ministry. People of Color continue to report negative racial encounters within the UUA.
1997-2001: An Answer To Racial/Cultural Diversity
1997 RESOLUTION TOWARD AN ANTI-RACIST UNITARIAN
UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION
WHEREAS the 1996 General Assembly resolved that all congregations, districts,
organizations, and professional and lay leaders participate in a reflection-action process
throughout the 1996-97 church year using the Congregational Reflection and Action
Process Guide and the Anti-Racism Assessment; and
WHEREAS our Unitarian Universalist principles call us to affirm and promote "justice,
equity, and compassion in human relations" and "the goal of world community"; and
WHEREAS our history as Unitarian Universalists includes evidence of both great
commitment and individual achievement in the struggle for racial justice as well as the
failure of our Unitarian Universalist institutions to respond fully to the call for justice;
and
WHEREAS racism and its effects, including economic injustice, are embedded in all
social institutions as well as in ourselves and will not be eradicated without deliberate
engagement in analysis and action; and
WHEREAS because of the impact of racism on all people, and the interconnection
among oppressions, we realize we need to make an institutional commitment to end
racism; and
WHEREAS the social, economic, and ecological health of our planet is imperiled by the
deepening divisions in our world caused by inequitable and unjust distribution of power
and resources; and
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WHEREAS we are called yet again by our commitment to faith in action to pursue this
anti-racist, multi-cultural initiative in the spirit of justice, compassion, and community;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 1997 General Assembly urges Unitarian
Universalists to examine carefully their own conscious and unconscious racism as
participants in a racist society, and the effect that racism has on all our lives, regardless of
color.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly urges the Unitarian
Universalist Association, its congregations, and community organizations to develop an
ongoing process for the comprehensive institutionalization of anti-racism and
multiculturalism, understanding that whether or not a group becomes multi-racial, there is
always the opportunity to become anti-racist. Early steps toward anti-racism might
include using curricula such as Journey Toward Wholeness for all age groups, forming
racial justice committees, and conducting anti-racism workshops.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly urges all Unitarian
Universalist leaders, including ministers, religious educators, leaders of associate and
affiliate organizations, governing boards, Unitarian Universalist Association staff,
theological schools, and future General Assemblies to engage in ongoing anti-racism
training, to examine basic assumptions, structures, and functions, and, in response to
what is learned, to develop action plans.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Unitarian Universalists are encouraged to enter
into relationships of sustained engagement with all people of color with a goal of opening
up authentic dialogue that may include, but is not limited to, race and racism. Such
dialogue should also include how to appropriately honor and affirm the cultural traditions
of all people of color.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly requests that the UUA
Board of Trustees establish a committee to monitor and assess our transformation as an
anti-racist, multi-cultural institution, and that the Board of Trustees shall report annually
to the General Assembly specifically on the programs and resources dedicated to
assisting our congregations in carrying out the objectives of this resolution.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that in order to transform the racist institutions of our
world, the General Assembly urges the Unitarian Universalist Association and all its
parts to establish relationships with other international and interfaith organizations that
are working to dismantle racism.
This resolution emphasizes the importance of moving toward anti-racist multiculturalism
where we deal with the issues of white power and privilege at the various levels of our
religious institution. It also calls on us as Unitarian Universalists to make a commitment
to doing this work in our congregations.
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At the 1997 GA in Phoenix, Arizona, after significant and impassioned debate, the
assembly passed the resolution entitled Toward an Anti-Racist Unitarian Universalist
Association, with only a handful of no votes. This became known as the Journey Towards
Wholeness Resolution, or the JTW resolution. Over the next five years, during the last half of
UUA President John Buehren’s term, the UUA and all of its parts would embark on the most
significant and sustained work around race and racism in the history of Unitarian and
Universalism. A full complement of staff was funded, hired and gathered into a newly
established UUA Faith in Action Department (FIA), which addressed all issues of justice-making
throughout the UUA including anti-racism, ableism, classism, environmental justice,
homophobia, and legislative issues through an office in Washington, D.C. A newsletter was
established called Faith in Action, to share news and resources twice a year. In the Fall/Winter
1997 edition, Susan Leslie, previously an administrator in the Racial and Cultural Diversity
Office and now Programs and Communications Coordinator for FIA, wrote of the JTW
resolution:
We have declared our intention to actively struggle to become an anti-racist, multicultural
faith. While our denomination has been involved in efforts to eradicate racism at various
times in our history, what is new here is an implicit understanding that racism is rooted in
white power and privilege, and that Unitarian Universalist institutions must themselves
be transformed as part of larger societal efforts.124
In effect, the JTW resolution was an answer to the question posed by the 1992 GA
Resolution for Racial and Cultural Diversity. This resolution was the final recommendation of
the Five-Year Task Force on Racial and Cultural Diversity, made after extensive dialogue in
congregations, districts and at GA via the Racial Justice Days.
This period is being reviewed and documented in a book to be published by the UUA
Skinner House in the coming years, tentatively entitled Journey From Calgary. The richness of
this period, and the more readily available material due to the collections posted online as well as
the substantial collaboration of UUA staff along with nearly all affiliate organizations and over
10% of the congregations will be a revelation and hopefully an inspiration for those who seek
racial justice.
Hundreds if not thousands of anti-racism trainings, congregational assessments, small
grants, consultations, anti-racism team formations, written reports, community partnerships,
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sermons and essays were published over these five years. While no centralized archive exists,
the material is all available for review, including grant applications and final evaluations, UUA
staff reports, job descriptions and minutes of the Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation
Committee.
There are several significant racial ideas that gained traction during this time. First was a
deeper understanding that institutional change is ultimately a long-term process about re-shaping,
or transforming the institutional identity of the organization. This was a goal at all levels of the
UUA. Second was the need for permanent, authentic accountability with collectives of People of
Color. The awareness developed that the presence of an individual person of Color, often one
Black UU, on a committee or board was not enough to denote institutional change with respect
to racism. Having a voice was important, but the analysis evolved that the voice of a collective
of People of Color mobilized for anti-racist action was necessary. Such was the mission of
AAUUM and DRUUMM, for example. Lastly, a new focus on racial identity development
emerged within the UUA, in large part due to the work of Dr. Leon Spencer, who served on the
UUA Board from the Thomas Jefferson District and later as President of the Thomas Jefferson
District.
Experiments with new racial ideas also brought about disappointment, often due to
conflict around language. A proposal to change the name of the Thomas Jefferson District to the
Towards Justice District, failed by a few votes to garner the super majority needed. DRUUMM
was established, but soon after, several founding members associated with LUUNA left, in
conflict over the language of People of Color. An attempt to publish a religious education
curriculum entitled the Language of Race made it to manuscript stage but was never realized due
to incomplete funding, staffing and content.
In 1998, a Consultation on Racial Justice was held in Chicago, January 16-18, cosponsored by Starr King and Meadville-Lombard, with over 100 participants. Attended by
ministers, UUA staff, members of the JTW Transformation Committee, and other activists
including a number of People of Color, the conference was an attempt to forge more unity
around the strategies for addressing racism. Discussed were the ideas of the JTW process calling
upon UUs to acknowledge racism, renounce White privilege, and claim an anti-racist identity.
Debated was some of the terminology around racial justice, including the word “anti” within
anti-racism. Rev. Jones commented, “I have no problem with ‘anti’ because once you’ve
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committed yourself to racial justice…you’re saying that something out there is wrong or bad and
you are committing yourself to getting rid of it, eradicating it.”125 This, and other issues such as
the way to approach White UUs, definitions and strategies for addressing institutional racism, the
role of People of Color, and the contract with Crossroads Ministry, an interfaith but
predominately Protestant Christian anti-racist training organization, were addressed with little
formal agreement or consensus.
Many anti-racist activists consider this to be the golden-age of collaboration, institutional
support, vision, and grass-roots organizing around racism, in spite of the challenges. There were
significant conversations being held throughout the reaches of the UUA, with complementary
resources and services being provided by the UUA staff. The JTW Transformation Committee
was focused on identifying and organizing leadership of congregations, districts and affiliate
organizations to take responsibility around racism, and working with the UUA to provide
assessment, programmating, training and strategic planning. Clearly it can be said that without
the intentional and multifaceted strategy of engaging all parts of the institution, from the
credentialing of religious professionals, to the mission and purpose identities of congregations
themselves, from the organizing and community building for People of Color, to the clear
questioning of White privilege within the UUA, there probably would have been no resistance.
Resistance did materialize in force however, a backlash that has some of its roots in the
Empowerment Controversy thirty years earlier. Predominately White UUs, in particular
religious professionals, and more specifically White Ministers, tended to be both reluctant, and at
times actively resistant and disparaging of the type and tone of anti-racism manifested by the
JTW resolution. The JTW Transformation Committee struggled to respond effectively, both
tactically and in terms of reshaping the strategic vision. Conflict arose over the impression that
addressing White privilege and power within an institutional framework, which the anti-racism
initiatives did, translated into an emphasis on White guilt, sin and a concept of evil. Although
the leadership of the anti-racism initiatives during this period attempted to answer, clarify and
relate directly with those who held objections, the dialogue was essentially a one-way street with
most of those who opposed the effort at anti-racism choosing to complain loudly but refusing to
engage when invited to help change or better understand goals and tactics.
Much of this came to a head in 1999 when Rev. Thandeka, a founding member of
AAUUM and now professor at Meadville/Lombard theological school, gave a workshop at GA
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entitled “What’s Wrong With Anti-Racism: Why Anti-Racism Will Fail.” Her points were as
follows:



They violate the first principle of our UU covenant together to actively affirm
and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
They make an erroneous assumption about the nature and structure of power
in America; and
They misinterpret actions resulting from feelings of shame and powerlessness
as evidence of white racism.126
The crux of her protest was that the definition of racism used by the JTW committee,
racism=racial prejudice + the misuse of systemic/institutional power, is essentially a modern
definition of original sin for White persons. She complained that the teaching included the
notion that “all whites in our country are born racist.”127 Thandeka refused several offers to
dialogue about her concerns both before and after her workshop, and ultimately her presence as
an African-American voice gave reason for many White UUs to disengage and ignore antiracism. The Jubilee Working Group, formerly the BCWG, charged with providing the
introductory anti-racism workshops to congregations, had this to say about the JTW in their
public response to Thandeka:
The focus of the Journey Towards Wholeness is that we are indeed broken and in need of
healing. But individual healing, which is necessary, will not be enough; we seek the
wholeness of the systems and institutions that impact the lives of all of us. We are
enmeshed in a social and economic system that oppresses many and privileges others on
the basis of arbitrary characteristics such as skin color, race, sex, gender orientation, age,
and physical ability. We assert that this system, which abuses and diminishes all of us
(although in different ways), was made by human beings and can be unmade by human
beings. In the work of the Jubilee Working Group for Anti-Racism, as in the work of all
of our Journey Towards Wholeness teams, we focus on active responsibility, not
paralyzing guilt. Our goal is to move toward the reconciliation and restoration of all
people to full personhood and participation in the Jubilee World of love, justice, and
equity.128
This period saw the establishment of many mechanisms that were designed to change the
institutional culture of Unitarian Universalism, broaden the awareness of UUs (in particularly
White UUs) to privilege and power, and foster ways for People of Color to connect more
intentionally with Unitarian Universalism. For example, in the ministry, serious efforts were
made to assess barriers to ministry and successful parish ministries by the UUA and the UU
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Ministers Association. The UUA Diversity on Ministry Team was established in order to
achieve an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and multicultural ministry. The key purpose of this
committee is to welcome, recruit, and advise ministers and seminarians from historically
marginalized communities; to identify and work to remove institutional barriers that prevent their
fullest participation in the ministerial credentialing process and the achievement of successful
ministerial settlements or professional ministerial employment; and in maintaining their access to
ongoing professional development. 129
In sum, the effects of these institutional experiences and advances are still being
processed with respect to the development of racial ideas in the UUA. There were incredible
strides, and the deep engagement of thousands of UUs, White UUs, around racism individually
and institutionally. These stories and the people involved need to be recognized, for their antiracist actions have only served to make the UUA a more welcoming and inclusive place for
People of Color. This period also saw White UUs contributing significantly to racial justice
efforts in their congregational communities, with partnerships and relationships forming with
other churches and community groups.
The institutional highlight of this work was the coming together of over 50 leaders, from
constituencies within the UUA including religious professionals, association leadership, youth,
young adults, and People of Color for a long weekend stakeholders meeting. Held in Kansas
City, Missouri in Spring of 1998, the meeting was called by the JTW Transformation Committee
and supported by trainers from Crossroads Ministry, an interfaith anti-racism ministry which the
UUA Board contracted with in 1992 to provide anti-racism development for the UUA. Out of
this meeting, where stories and strategies were shared with respect to institutional anti-racism
work, the UUA gained deeper insight and direction on the path towards institutional
transformation, and the individual organizational stakeholders worked independently and
interdependently to develop a new round of informed goals and strategic tactics to address race
and racism.
This era with respect to the development of racial ideas was extremely rich due to the
serious commitment by congregations and the association to the development of anti-racist/antioppression multiculturalism. The UUA facilitated relationships between of congregational and
district teams, with other faith based anti-racism initiatives, as well as within the People of Color
community, namely DRUUMM, helped many new notions of race and racism evolve within the
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culture of Unitarian Universalism. The importance of identity work, both individually and
institutionally, accountability relationships in justice-making, and strategic thinking, all became
central to the work of anti-racism. Racial ideas in general were receiving considerable “air time”
in various UU communities, from congregations to affiliate organizations, generating an
enormous amount of feedback, new ideas and adaptations regarding theory and practice. The
Faith in Action Department deserves considerable credit in their role as facilitators, but equally
important in their efforts to process, synthesize, and understand trends and best practices that
could be communicated to the anti-racism initiative.
The intensity of the push back from congregations, their ministers and members,
however, is perhaps the most important realization. In part it is about finding the right language,
both politically but more importantly theologically; to inspire, covenant and sustain efforts at
addressing race and racism. On the other hand, it is also the reality of attempting to engage an
overwhelmingly White institution on an issue that has historically been proven to be extremely
controversial, painful, and easier to ignore in our places of worship and spirituality.
2002-2005: Black President of a White Denomination
In 2001, Rev. William Sinkford was elected President of the UUA by a wide margin over
Rev. Diane Miller. The race pitted what would be the first Black President against what would
be the first Woman President of the UUA. Both identity issues were discussed at length during
the year-long campaign. After Sinkford’s election, a new era in the UUA began, one in which a
Black person, who understands himself as a Person of Color, active in the affairs of AAUUM
and a founding member of DRUUMM, was now in the highest elected position of the UUA.
The media and UUs themselves marveled at the story of Sinkford, how he had been
President of Liberal Religious Youth (UUA) in the 1960s, had left the UUA over the racial
discord of the Empowerment Controversy, and had rejoined the church in Cincinnati after a
career in corporate America, graduating from Starr King School for the Ministry in the mid1990s. Sinkford’s election represented to some the end of the problem of racial and cultural
diversity within the UUA, now that a Person of Color was in the top position. To others,
particularly People of Color, it was a remarkable acknowledgement of Sinkford’s talents and
gifts, but only one step in the continuing process towards anti-racist institutional transformation.
Sinkford himself noted the disparity in opinions about his presence and legacy, and understood
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the complexity of his position should he choose to continue the critical engagement of racism
that his predecessor (and college roommate at Harvard) Rev. John Buehrens had supported.
Indeed much changed, under Sinkford’s leadership. Sinkford authorized the dismantling
of the UUA Faith in Action Department and the downsizing of staff support and funding for antiracism and People of Color ministries. This was in part due to financial difficulties suffered post
September 11th, 2001, when the stock market crashed (the UUA is sustained heavily by stock
indexed endowment funding), and in part due to the recognition that the baggage of championing
a struggling and controversial anti-racism initiative might risk effectiveness with other important
UUA matters, particularly around issues of growth, fundraising, public witness for marriage
equality, and a new faith foundations curriculum.
Racial ideas continue to percolate through the system, but few institutional efforts are
underway that measure close to the peaks of 1997-2001. The major change with respect to
education and organizing was the establishment of the JUUST Change Consultancy, that shifted
the priority of having a team of UUA staff coordinate, train, process and evaluate anti-racism
initiatives with congregations, districts and affiliate organizations to a team of selected paid
consultants. These consultants are trained to consult with these groups on all anti-oppression
issues and relevant justice-making services of the UUA, with an emphasis on anti-racism.
Managed by Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, Director of Congregational Services and Paula Cole
Jones, lead JUUST Change Consultant, this program was explained thus:
[it draws] on insights and experiences from work with linked oppressions. We want to
reach out to congregations with support for justice work already being done, with an offer
to work with them to identify their next steps and help to build on their strengths, and
with encouragement to expand their capacity to engage the work of justice - including
work on racism - that is rooted in Unitarian Universalist identity, theology and values.130
As of 2005



Over 200 congregations have experienced a Jubilee One workshop in the past 10 years.
More than 4,000 religious and lay leaders have participated in anti-racism events,
including the Jubilee Two power analysis training.
More than 350 congregations have participated in Beyond Categorical Thinking.131
The UUA identifies these 10 steps towards anti-racist/anti-oppressive/multicultural
congregations:
1. Intentionality
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2. Committed leadership
3. Anti-racism training
4. Multi-level educational programs
5. Worship
6. Social Justice
7. Accountability
8. Anti-Racist Caucuses: White Anti-Racists and People of Color
9. Anti-racist identity and practice being fostered in the various program areas of the church
10. Clear and measurable movement from stage two (Passive, a “Club” Institution) to stage
three (Symbolic Change, A Multicultural Institution) or stage three to stage four (Identity
Change, an Anti-Racist Institution).132
With respect to White UU anti-racist action, a new UUA organization of anti-racist Whites
was formed in November 2005 in response to a call from DRUUMM for such a formation.
Leading into General Assembly 2006, after conducting a community survey including People of
Color, the group settled on the name Allies Toward Racial Equality, or A.R.E. While this does
not clearly state that it is an organization of White anti-racists, leaders have sought to find a
name under which the most persons would feel comfortable joining. White Ministers continue to
struggle to address racism, and in 2005 formed a new focus group: The European-American
Anti-Racist Transformation Focus Group of the UU Ministers Association. Their charge is as
follows:
Many UU ministers who identify as white seek to dismantle racist attitudes and systems. Out
of this motivation, a new focus group of the UUMA has formed, the “European-American
Anti-Racist Transformation” focus group, in collaboration with Clyde Grubbs, leader of the
Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, Multiculturalism portfolio. Our mission is to create a
European-American anti-racist presence within the UUMA, a network by which ministers
who identify as Euro-American may grow as individuals and religious leaders towards
addressing the problem of racism in our ministries, our congregations and communities and
the world at large. We do this work in conversation and collaboration with other professional
alliances and identity-based organizations.133
The publication of Soul Work: Anti-Racist Theologies in Practice, in 2003, signaled
another excellent collection of works from a theological symposium hosted by the UUA. The
guests, including non-UUs, dialogued for a weekend with formal presentations and responses,
plus discussion. In their conclusion, editors Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Rev. Nancy
Palmer Jones identified key observations that had to do with the best sense of racial ideas and
Unitarian Universalist theology. These were:
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1. Robette Dias feels that it is important to acknowledge the centrality of worldview
and the context for its development in human beings. She is disappointed that
there was no articulation of how evil came into our world (in Unitarian
Universalism and the larger world), specifically, the evil manifested as
colonialism, racism, sexism, and heterosexism.
2. Bill Gardiner says that in doing our theological work, it is important to have some
understanding of the historical roots of our collusion with racism. He
recommends two books that focus on the impact of our Puritan heritage: The
Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity by Jill
Lepore and Seeds of Racism in the Soul of America by Paul Griffin.
3. Susan Leslie observes that it is a continuing challenge to remain focused on
theology versus sociology, and she appreciates that participants took “risks of
faith” in looking at the theological implications of where oppression is located.
4. Victor Lewis believes that the failure of empathy is intimately related to the
question of self-understanding. “Perhaps we have no obligation to become
experts in an oppression that is not our own,” he says.134
Despite a general feeling of malaise within the community of those who have engaged
traditionally with anti-racism, and the reduction in dedicated UUA staff and funding for antiracism, Sinkford expresses a deep commitment to the work of welcoming People of Color and
several renewed efforts are underway institutionally in addition to what is reviewed here. First,
while the vision for anti-racism congregational change is now held within the JUUST Change
Consultancy and a small group of advanced anti-racism trainers known as Jubilee 2 trainers, a
new curriculum designed for congregations to self-explore issues of race and racism is being
commissioned by the UUA with Mark Hicks, faculty at George Mason and member of All Souls
Church, D.C. This curriculum, which is still several years in the making, will help congregations
go through an extensive educational process with the goal of making more welcome People of
Color. The UUA is also moving to prioritize work with multiracial and families of color,
something that DRUUMM had initially raised over a decade earlier. Efforts to complement
DRUUMM programming at GA have focused on transracial adoption, multiracial identity, and
racial identity development, and are being considered by the UUA and the Family Matters Task
Force. A week long multiracial and families of color summer camp is being envisioned for
2007.
The discussion of racial ideas continues across the UUA in earnest, with special attention
being rededicated to involving congregations in the dialogue. All parts of the UUA
administration, UUA committees, and many of the UUA affiliate organizations continue to
address anti-racism in some capacity. The challenge continues to be the ability to find clarity in
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the goals and strategies for anti-racism work that unite Unitarian Universalists together to
address race and race relations internally, so that their external work in the community is
accountable and authentic. The JTW Transformation Committee, considering a name change to
the Transformation Committee for Wholeness and Justice, continues to be the primary body
responsible for directing and sustaining the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
efforts.
Racial ideas have changed profoundly over the last twenty five years, with the application
of Unitarian Universalist theology and accountability to the experiences of the collective People
of Color having the largest impact. Theologically, we have come to understand the roots and
vestiges of racism within Unitarian Universalism, and this has motivated us to continue to work
internally both theologically and politically to dismantle racism and transform our institution into
a place that is welcoming and meaningful for People of Color. Understanding who is a Person of
Color has contributed to a series of consistent changes that have both incorporated more
historically and experientially accurate discernments and have repeatedly deepened and
broadened the imagination of the institutional anti-racist transformation we seek. Anti-racism
work is not strictly a Black-White issue, and it is not strictly a racial issue. Racism is slowly
being understood, and re-understood, in a variety of conditions, circumstances, and institutional
structures.
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Chapter IX: People of Color History in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005
In They Dark Eyes
Deep down in they dark eyes
A world of longing lies
Of sweet desire,
Of hopes, of doubts, of fears,
And just a trace of tears
Quenched by the fire
Of love’s perpetual glow,
Of passion’s ebb and flow,
As they arise
In they dark eyes.
-Lewis H. Latimer, undated135
See Table 2: Ministers of Color Fellowshipped 1980-2005 (see page 136)
My highest hope is that the accounting of the activities of People of Color, and the
recognition of People of Color community development within Unitarian Universalism, will
serve to inspire and motivate others to document and share their narratives. Due to the time
table, scope, and access to information, what follows are truly highlights that only begin to tell
the history of People of Color from 1980-2005.
DRUUMM Logo 2003
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Religious Professionals of Color
This is an area that is in need of more extensive research and writing, and this is
beginning with the People of Color archive at Meadville/Lombard Theological School by
Michelle Bentley. In Unitarian Universalism, religious professionals, specifically ministers,
directors of religious education and association staff, are the backbone of the community. The
UUA does not have the same quality of lay leadership development, roles, or recognition as
other denominations. With congregational polity firmly adopted, ministers in congregations
retain powers, particularly related to networking and the communication of General Assembly
initiatives, which place ministers in a primary gate-keeping role. As most congregations are
small or mid-sized (150 average), ministers are often the only full-time staff person, and this
increases their command over extra-congregational endeavors given this primary position, while
at the same time limiting their capability through limited resources and manifold responsibilities.
Association-wide efforts to build organizations and initiatives to support People of Color have
been historically tied to the presence of religious professionals of color, in particular ministers of
color. These factors, although brief, underscore the importance of religious professionals of color
to general efforts of building a People of Color community within Unitarian Universalism.
Table 2 lists People of Color who have been fellowshipped by the UUA since 1980.
Some of these persons are referred to in the chronological narratives presented next. Others are
omitted, for the most part due to a lack of available information on their lives. Examining the
growth of ministers of color is helpful in studying the concurrent growth in the People of Color
community. Several of the ministers fellowshipped in the early 1990s, namely William Sinkford
and Chester McCall recall the importance of other ministers of color who spent time face to face
with them as they prepared for fellowship with the UUA.136 AAUUM was instrumental in
creating these opportunities, with the support of the UUA, starting around 1993. Unfortunately
these have died out since 1998, and at this time, there is no clear strategic plan to organize space.
This is even more regrettable and adverse given the sudden growth in seminarians of color,
organized in 2003 by DRUUMM, that now tracks thirty-two People of Color preparing for the
Unitarian Universalist ministry.
What is missing from this table and from this particular thesis, is the issue of seminarians
of color who have attempted to gain fellowship but have resigned. Knowing why this occurs is
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important in the context of anti-racist multiculturalism. Chester McCall, chaplain for
DRUUMM, remarked that there were around twenty seminarians of color in 1997 when he
received fellowship, and that today less than a handful made it through to that stage.137 There is
anxiety amongst the other seminarians of color I know about the reality and sustainability of our
presence within Unitarian Univeralism with respect to racial and cultural issues. There is a need
to assess and analyze this for trends, challenges and opportunities. To build a strong and
supportive People of Color community and ministry, we need to commit to developing more
religious professionals of color.
The narrative history below is broken into three time periods, 1980-1989, 1990-1999, and
2000-2005.
1980-1989
If only Eugene Sparrow was another Howard Thurman. The barriers of race were so
overwhelming that only someone with the spiritual depth and national stature of a
Howard Thurman could have succeeded.138
In 1980, Mark Morrison-Reed’s book Black Pioneers was published detailing the
difficulty of African-American ministers succeeding in Unitarian Universalism. His efforts
further connected and grounded the African-American experience, fostering relationships
between the other twelve known ministers of African-descent. Morrison-Reed would be a
touchstone for African-Americans, along with Rev. William Jones and Rev. David Eaton, with
their positions of ministry and in the case of Jones, professorship, over the next decade. AfricanAmerican women ministers would also become very prominent and important as Rev.Yvonne
Chappelle and Rev. Adele Smith-Pennimen would be ordained in 1982 and 1983 respectively.
Rev. Michelle Bentley would be ordained a few years later in 1986, and these three women
would serve equally in the various organizing and community building efforts. AfricanAmericans would be the most organized People of Color community consistently until the late
1990s.
African-Americans continued to meet one another intentionally, thanks to various UUA
committees and task forces they were asked to serve on. These included the UUA’s Urban
Ministry committees in various configurations, the UUA Affirmative Action Task Force which
had a specific emphasis on the recruitment and retention of African descent persons, and in the
new ethnic start and extension ministry efforts, largely connected to the urban ministry efforts of
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the UUA. Community building, both in terms of numbers as well as political consciousness,
grew significantly after the 1985 GA Resolution established the Black Concerns Working Group.
This group, which included Whites and eventually other People of Color, charged with
eradicating racism in the UUA and the world (with an annual budget of $5,000) developed into
the leading advocacy, training and consciousness-raising group for anti-racism over the next 15
years. It also fostered a new meeting place for lay and professional African descent persons to
meet. Key lay members included Norma Poinsett and Leon Spencer, both of whom would later
serve terms on the UUA Board. Poinsett offers her perspective on the work:
Over the years I have been an unpaid professional volunteer for the Unitarian
Universalist Association. Working to build a more just world is hard work and time
consuming, but working with an association that is committed to building an anti-racist
institution makes the work gratifying. I dream of a world where all of the UUA groups
will look at their work through an anti-racist lens. So often we hear the statement,
"Education is a necessity in bringing racial and social justice to all people." We Unitarian
Universalists, who make up one of the most educated and intellectual groups in the
world, should meet the challenge to live the principles we mouth from the pews and
pulpits.
As an original member of the UUA's Black Concerns Working Group, started in 1985
and now renamed the Jubilee World Working Group, I helped develop the "Jubilee
World Anti-Racism Workshop," a weekend workshop that is still in great demand by
congregations and for conferences throughout the continent. Within the past three months
I co-led Jubilee workshops in Monte Clair and San Mateo, California. This workshop is a
rich resource for congregations or groups that are beginning anti-racist work.139
The first demographic description of African descent UUs came in 1989 when the
Commission on Appraisal in their survey entitled the “Quality of Religious Life in UU
Congregations,” included a question about respondents’ race. Morrison-Reed, then a member of
the commission, wrote a summary analysis, based on the small sample (16) who responded out
of 1,286 received, highlighting the characteristics both sociologically and spiritually of the
sample. He noted that “in socio-economic status the Afro-American UU is very similar to that of
the Euro-American UU, but the former’s attitude toward worship is significantly different.”
Morrison-Reed’s words were adopted by the commission in their final report to the GA, and in
summary he wrote:
We have made no great inroads into the African-American community over the past 20
years. Those African-American individuals that have found Unitarian Universalism
attractive resemble the typical UU in regard to socio-economic status. However, when
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we consider the worship needs, the theological perspectives and expectations of the
ministry expressed by many black UUs we notice a significant variance from the norm.
This reality speaks to the necessity of changing our style of worship if we are to have a
broader cultural appeal. Furthermore, the difference in value systems between Unitarian
Universalist and black protestants may be an additional reason that African-Americans
have not sought out our churches.140
The 1989 report estimated that there were approximately 1,800 African descent UUs,
predominately in the United States, in congregations.
Ethnic new start and extension ministry efforts in this period gained financial support and
ministerial presence from People of Color. These, and other new efforts, continued into the
1990s, dying out or transitioning off UUA dollars by the year 2000. While no detailed
documentation is available, a little may be learned from the locations and expressed
racial/cultural focus. Momentum for this work was provided in part from the recommendations
of the Institutional Racism Audit. This information was gained from a
summary of activities of Urban UU ministry in a report made available
on a now out-of-date UUA webpage:

First UU Church Los Angeles, CA: Korean

First UU Church San Jose, CA: Latino

First UU Church Roxbury, MA: Multiracial
Rev. Hyun Hwan Kim, a Korean-American, was hired as minister of
the First Church Los Angeles in 1984, and maintained a national profile
through writing columns for the UU World over the next four years.
Rev. Hyun Hwan Kim
Rev. Philip Zwerling,
(credit: UU World)
minister at First LA
when Kim arrived, had set the stage for
People of Color outreach by establishing a
Racial Growth Committee in 1981, with
members who identify as Latino, Korean,
Black and Pacific Islander, focused on
drawing from the integrated community
around the church.141 By 1982, the UU World
First Church Los Angeles, 1982 (credit: UU World)
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had again profiled the efforts of First LA with an article entitled “Los Angeles Opens Liberal
Religion to Asian-Americans,” focusing in particular on their efforts within the Korean
immigrant community. The article stated:
For a denomination which is predominately white, Protestant, and European in its thought
forms, the opening towards Asian-Americans is without precedent. “These are people
who are on fire with Unitarian Universalism,” the Rev. Philip Zwerling, minister of the
First Unitarian Church of Los Angles, remarked recently. The newcomers are members
of a burgeoning Korean community in southern California…Although the numbers of
Koreans who have joined the church is small, the contacts between the congregation and
the Korean community are substantial and promising. A Korean, Woon-Ha Kim,
occupied the pulpit last December. Koreans serve regularly as greeters and ushers at
morning services. A five-week course in UU history for Koreans was offered last year.
Koreans contribute pulpit editorials on the theme, Why I Am a Unitarian Universalist.142
In Roxbury, Massachusettes, the UUA eventually partnered with United Church of Christ
(UCC) minister and African-American, Graylan Hagler, by 1983 to build around the multiracial
community south of Boston at the historic First Church in Roxbury, a
congregation that had seen significant decline after years of White flight
from the urban neighborhood. Hagler had previously served the Third
Unitarian Church of Chicago in the 1970s, although never fellowshipped
by the UUA. Hagler came to work with Elizabeth Ellis, a White UU
minister, and together they sought to build a multiracial liberal religious
church tri-associated with the UUA, UCC and the Disciples of Christ
143
USA.
(Hagler photo by Dorthea von Haaftan)
Rev. Graylan Hagler
(credit: Petra Foundation)
Three People of Color, of African descent, were hired onto the UUA staff in program
positions. The first was Loretta Williams, who was hired as Director of Social Responsibility in
1980. The second was Jacqui James, formerly a Director of Religious Education at the First UU
Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1986 to work on the new Hymnal Commission. The third
was Mel Hoover, hired to work with Urban Ministry in 1989. Williams would resign by the
second term of UUA President William Schultz; James retired from the UUA just after 2000, and
Hoover left the UUA to co-minister with his wife in Charlestown, West Virginia.
Morrison-Reed singled out first James, then Hoover, for their efforts at building
community and providing real ministry to African descent UUs in the 1980s. James in particular
was one who kept excellent notes and facilitated communication and networking among African
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descent UUs. She would later work in the Religious Education department at the UUA.
Williams was less involved in People of Color ministry, having demanding responsibilities
across multiple social justice issues.
In 1982, the UU World ran a cover interview entitled “UUA’s First Black Woman
Minister Shares Her Views.” Dr. Yvonne Reed Chappelle, who received her Ph.D. in 1974 in
African and Afro-American Studies, when asked “How have you found the road so far as a black
and a woman in a predominately white and male denomination?”, remarked that she had little
worry about being a woman but stated, “Being black in this denomination is very lonely.”144
While she sought to “express black culture, to be open to all people whatever their religious
background, and to call people to their own spirituality,” through her ministry, Chappelle (later
Chappelle-Seon), would not find success in UU parish ministry.
Rev. Leon Wright, Howard University, Rev. Yvonne Chappelle, listen
to the charge to the ministry of the Rev. David Eaton at All Souls, D.C.
(credit: The World)
In 1989, the African-American Unitarian Universalist Ministry, or AAUUM, was formed.
In addition to what was profiled earlier (see Chapter VII), AAUUM became an important
networking and support system for religious professionals, and a force for positive racial
relations that would complement the UUA’s racial justice efforts and eventually plant the seeds
for the broader People of Color organization of DRUUMM founded a decade later. AAUUM,
with its membership limited to religious professionals, saw itself in religious and spiritual terms
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first, not just as an African descent caucus. Their goal was “to mobilize the African-American
Unitarian Universalist Ministry as a prophetic witness for spirituality, power, and justice.”
1990-1999
The 1990s brought about an ever increasing circle of who was understood to be a Person
of Color and ended up fostering a broad based coalition of religious professionals of color who
founded DRUUMM in 1998. Efforts at organizing Latinos/as reached a peak, again through the
Urban Ministry efforts of the UUA, and the various constituencies of People of Color were
meeting and finding common solidarity through the racial and cultural diversity, and anti-racism
efforts of the UUA.
By 1991, lay leaders and ministers from six new intentionally racially diverse
congregations the UUA were funding and working with had met several times face to face to
share experiences. The congregations represented were: Sojourner Truth Congregation,
Washington, DC; Church of the Restoration, Tulsa, OK; North River UU Church, Chicago, IL;
Oscar Romero UU Congregation, Los Angeles, CA; UU Society of the Palisades, Englewood,
NJ; and the organizing congregation of Thurman Hamer-Ellington UU Church, Atlanta/Decatur,
GA.145 Of these six, only Restoration, and the Palisades congregations still exist independently.
The Oscar Romero Fellowship is now a part of the First Church Los Angeles, CA.
The African descent experience remained the most prominent activity within the People
of Color history during the first part of the 1990s. The advent of AAUUM, along with the Black
Concerns Working, was complemented by a third group of African descent UUs, primarily lay
members called The Network of Black Unitarian Universalists, or The Network. The Network
was a group that primarily met at GA, and worked to “increase the involvement of AfricanAmericans in the Unitarian Universalist movement, and at its annual meeting at General
Assembly provides an opportunity to identify common concerns.”146 In 1992, these three groups
established the Coalition of African-American Unitarian Universalist Organizations, and together
hosted the largest known gathering of People of Color, specifically African descent persons, in
the last twenty five years.
The Coalition had as its mission the vision of assisting the three founding member
organizations, to help formulate a collective agenda, to maintain an executive council, and to
host an annual Continental Congress of African descent UUs. On September 25th, 1992, in
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, over 100 persons gathered for the first, and only congress of the
Coalition. At the heart of the congress was a commemoration of Frances Ellen Watkins
Harper(1825-1911), a Unitarian laywoman, abolitionist, novelist and poet, first woman faculty at
Union Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and a powerful orator on issues of racism and sexism in her
day. The congress held a memorial service and laying of a headstone at the Eden Cemetery in
Philadelphia on Sunday, September 27th, 1992.
Congress of African UUs 1992, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (credit: UU World)
Frances Watkins Harper
Commemoration
(credit: UU World)
The Coalition Executive Council gathered together leadership from the three
organizations, and was a significant achievement of partnership and harmony within the Black
UU community. Rev. Daniel Aldridge Jr., who was initially called to an ethnic new start147 in
Decatur, Georgia, the Thurman-Hamer-Ellington Church, was the Chair of the coalition. Norma
Poinsett served as Vice-Chair; Ray Olive Clark, Chair of The Network, as Secretary; Leon
Spencer as Vice-Secretary; Carol Walker, The Network Vice-Chair as Treasurer; Yvonne
Chappelle Seon and Rev. Charles Yielbonzie Johnson as members-at-large. The Coalition was
staffed very part-time by Nik-ki Whittingham, sister of Rev. Michelle Bentley, out of Chicago,
Illinois.148
In 1995, AAUUM itself reached a new peak, with 25 members coming together for their
annual January meeting. Noteworthy was the presence of a number of gay and lesbian AAUUM
members, roughly 1/3 according to Morrison-Reed, and his sense was there was no longer a
lingering ambivalence about being a part of the UUA that had been present earlier in the
organizations history.149 Complementing this development, AAUUM member, faculty and Dean
of Students at Meadville-Lombard Theological School, Rev. Michelle Bentley, directed as part
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of her Doctor of Ministry degree, a new Multicultural Ministry Program (MMP)150 from 1993 to
1996. Bentley, who was the first and only female of color Meadville/Lombard graduate (1986)
at the time, and first faculty member of color at a Unitarian Universalist theological school,
sought to bring more People of Color into the UUA, as well as significantly improve
multicultural ministerial education for White seminarians. The MMP was funded at an annual
average budget of $44,447, with in-kind contributions from Meadville-Lombard.151
The MMP was truly unique in the history of theological education, and partnered with
AAUUM in hopes of increasing the pool of ministers of color in order to both test the UUA’s
commitment to diversity among its leadership, as well as improve the quality of life for existing
ministers of color through educating ministers about multiculturalism. Bentley also hoped that
“such leadership would attract congregants of color.”152 The program was extraordinary in scope
and implementation, with a series of worships, workshops, speakers, conferences, and grassroots
outreach conducted by Bentley and associates. The heart of the MMP was at
Meadville/Lombard, however participants and supporters of the effort came from across North
America. Bentley had a significant challenge that despite good attendance from students and
UUA guests, few faculty members chose to participate.153
Despite the personal, and in some respects institutional excitement at the MMP, in
Bentley’s own words, “the beautiful flower that had begun to open at Meadville/Lombard now
began to wilt.” Few students of color recruited during this era went into UU ministry, and the
program itself was terminated by 1997. She described in detail the experiences of leadership of
the MMP, student experiences, and identifies clearly the difficulty in developing an anti-racist
multicultural program in an institution fraught with institutionalized racism and prejudice. There
were struggles with pedagogy, tension between the analysis of the 1960s vesus the 1990s, faculty
who were unskilled at facilitating intense dialogue about racism and multiculturalism that would
inevitably present itself in classroom discussion, and her own challenges balancing her high
hopes to see institutional transformation and growth in the community of People of Color.154
By 1997, the year the JTW resolution passed the General Assembly, only AAUUM and
the BCWG remained, and The Coalition and The Network were defunct. There was also a sense
of burnout among African-Americans, and other People of Color in the UUA such as Rev. Diane
Arakawa (first Asian UU minister fellowshipped in 1979), many of whom had been serving in
association-wide capacities for over a decade. This was a particular problem for religious
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professionals, who found themselves stretched to serve the interests and needs of a White church
that sought their advice and counsel in fostering racial and cultural diversity.
The anti-racism efforts generated from the JTW provided cause for celebration among
many of the People of Color who had helped to bring about the resolution. It helped bring about
a shared approach to the racial and cultural diversity question as Whites were now expected to
engage in their own soul work around racism. People of Color continued to organize, but
without the same urgency as the UUA Board and staff moved to provide significant institutional
support and funding for anti-racism.
Through the anti-racism efforts, the vision for building People of Color community more
intentionally and collectively took off, culminating in the founding of DRUUMM by religious
professionals of color in 1997. In a grant to the UU Funding Panel, a group of People of Color
wrote:
Since 1987, AAUUM has served the needs of African-American religious professionals
within the UUA and provided a voice for their concerns within the Association. The
creation of AAUUM grew out of the unique needs of African-American religious
professionals and the recognition that the UU Ministers Association did not provide an
adequate network of support for the small but growing number of persons of African
descent being personally called to service within Unitarian Universalism. Since its
creation, AAUUM has worked to support African-American
religious professionals, mentored students of color (more broadly)
and those seeking transfer or dual fellowship with the Association,
and increasingly, AAUUM has been called to serve as the voice for
professionals of color in UUA institutional contexts.
The needs and the voices of Latina/o, Asian and Native American
professionals has no comparable channel. Since 1992, AAUUM
had considered the possibility of opening its membership and
redefining its mission as service to all religious professionals of
color. Increasingly, Latina/o, Asian and Native American religious
professionals have sought relationship and support from AAUUM.
Finally in January 1996 at its annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas,
AAUUM voted unanimously to invite all religious professionals of
color into conversation about our particular and our collective
needs.155
William Sinkford (credit: UUA)
In 2000, two years after DRUUMM had been operational, a motion was carried to open
DRUUMM up to lay members as well. This was in part due to the advocacy of youth and young
adults of color who had been increasingly connected as People of Color and were working more
intimately with DRUUMM leadership to address their needs. There has been concern, however,
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that the shift to a lay and professional organization has left the religious professionals without a
space to caucus and address their distinctive needs. In effect, the close connections and working
relationships between religious professionals of color, chiefly ministers, has declined since this
change. Furthermore, the DRUUMM Vice-President position focused on ministerial concerns
has been largely vacant without any significant action since 2000.
On the UUA Staff, as program staff, Lola Peters was hired in 1990, as Associate Director
for Racial and Cultural Diversity, and William Sinkford was hired in 1994 as Director for
Congregational and District Services. In 1998, Joseph Santos-Lyons was hired in the Office of
Young Adult and Campus Ministry, the first Asian/Pacific Islander on the program staff. Soon
thereafter, Robette Dias (Native American/Karuk), Taquiena Boston (African-American),
andDanielle Dibona (Native American/ Wamponoag) were hired in the Faith in Action
department. Dias was the first person to hold the People of Color ministry portfolio beginning in
2001.
2000-2005
In 2000, the UUA identified 45 People of Color in the ministry.156 While the majority of
these were of African descent, the racial and cultural diversity of those seeking to be
fellowshipped has increased substantially. While the number of People of Color in Unitarian
Universalism is still relatively unknown, the presence and visibility of People of Color within the
Association is considerable. People of Color serve on nearly all major UUA committees, and
with the election of Rev. William Sinkford, the public face of Unitarian Universalism identifies
as a Person of Color.
People of Color ministry efforts, in large part due to the anti-racism efforts, continue to
develop at the congregational and national level, although the efforts are unconnected and
independent of one another. DRUUMM is considered the primary collective voice of People of
Color in the UUA, although LUUNA has established itself as a voice for Latino/as. Youth and
Young Adults of Color mobilize to gather at various YRUU and C*UUYAN conferences,
meetings, and have their own events through the leadership of the DRUUMM Youth and Young
Adults of Color Steering Committee. Many consider the efforts of the younger generation to be
the vanguard activities with respect to People of Color, as the institutionalization of structure,
support, funding and leadership development has continued to mature with support from the
UUA.157
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Since 2002, People of Color now gather annually at the DRUUMM Annual Conference,
generally held in November around the US Veterans Day holiday. This is the first annual
gathering held consecutively by and for People of Color in the last twenty-five years. People of
Color continue to meet at General Assembly, primarily through DRUUMM and LUUNA
programming. Ministers of Color and other religious professionals of color do not have a
standing organization or meeting. Youth and children of color continue to be considered the
vanguard of the growth in racial and cultural diversity. As a result, DRUUMM and the
Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus (APIC) have organized several intentional programs, Multiracial
and Family of Color district retreats, and major speakers at General Assembly to draw attention
to this development. At GA 2005, transracial adoption was a significant program organized by
APIC, a caucus of DRUUMM, that was widely attended. Within the youth community (YRUU),
a growing number of youth of color identify as transracially adopted, and the implication and
meaning of this development has yet to be fully considered or understood.
The UUA Staff has taken a major step back from providing organizing and networking
support for People of Color, focusing instead on advocacy for People of Color within the
institution on various UUA committees, particularly for religious professionals, and advising the
UUA around existing programs and services. There has been a reduction in the number of
program staff at the UUA, and thus the capacity for services has been similarly reduced. The
Identity Based Ministries Staff Group remains the primary body at the UUA responsible for the
People of Color ministry portfolio, although with limited staff, there has not been the broad,
comprehensive awareness and networking focus of the former Faith in Action Department. This
has resulted in a sense of discord and confusion among the larger People of Color community,
with the various movements of People of Color existing and developing for the most part
separately and without the common vision and cohesion experienced a decade earlier.
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Chapter X: Conclusion and Recommendations
This history of People of Color in Unitarian Universalism is a drop in the ocean of
experiences, struggles and accomplishments over the last twenty-five years. There is indeed a
rich history of activism, education, and empowerment by People of Color for their own
community and for the UUA as a whole. People of Color who are chronicled here have proven
to be deeply committed to UU theology and principles, in spite of the paternalistic questioning of
White UUs. The 1980s saw major efforts to achieve a presence within the UUA. The 1990s
realized this presence at the associational level, and People of Color successfully organized
themselves and within the UUA to bring to the attention of White UUs issues of importance to
People of Color through the JTW anti-racism initiatives. In the first part of the 21st century,
People of Color remain visible, yet there is much labor to be done to sustain the community
building efforts of the earlier generation.
People of Color exist in a very unique circumstance in Unitarian Universalism. Being
outnumbered, so to speak, twenty five to one, or in many cases, fifty to one, makes life “lonely,”
as Yvonne Chappelle Seon stated in her interview as the first Black Woman UU minister in
1982. This loneliness can undermine and demoralize even the most independent, strong-willed
and proud Person of Color who seeks to sustain their spiritual life in a Unitarian Universalist
congregation. The UUA in general still struggles with overconfidence in the area of race
relations, taking one step forward and two steps backward in the dance of working towards racial
justice. Importantly, a critical mass of White UUs have recognized the importance of working
internally on racism as part and parcel of working externally for racial justice in the world.
There is a deep need among People of Color for community, political action, mentorship,
and pastoral care. In essence, a People of Color ministry is sincerely needed in the UUA, and if
anything comes of this thesis, it is my hope that more persons, White and People of Color, will
take up the responsibility and vision for this ministry.
In writing this thesis, I carry with me a deep wellspring of hope around issues of racial
justice. This hope is based on my profound experiences with Unitarian Universalism, both
within People of Color communities, as well as in our congregations. These experiences, both
relational and theological, remind me of the significance of liberal religion in my life. This faith
tradition has empowered me with its spiritual soul-saving message for this life’s suffering, and
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for the passionate and meaningful communities that have evolved into DRUUMM,
congregations and other itinerant gatherings of Unitarian Universalists. We have a legacy of
social engagement, and have historic voices on issues of race and racism that give hope when
hope is hard to find. This inheritance is still a part of our customs today, and I believe that we
will continue to articulate, even through difficult struggle, our contemporary voice.
I have two pieces of advice for congregations. Foremost is to remain patient as they
develop strategies. We have common goals, increasing racial and cultural diversity, dismantling
racism. Our tactics will be diverse, but not severely different; but developing our own norms and
rituals around change is important. Anti-racist multicultural transformation is a generational
shift, and daily mindfulness and institutional vision are equally necessary. Second is theological
and social teaching. William Ellery Channing, a Unitarian forbearer, offers us the idea that each
of us has the potential to develop our “free spiritual powers”.158 As human beings, we have the
unique ability to nurture and bring forth the sacred from within to touch the holy. In this
spiritual act of seeking to foster our own sense of sacredness, Channing does not only advocate
for our traditional corporate worship, but also for worship within our peer groups to help give
shape to these free spiritual powers. Our peer groups share deep connections, experiences, and
meaning, and our ability to support such opportunities for People of Color is essential in our
racial justice efforts. We must encourage People of Color within our congregation to bond, and
to meet other People of Color in the district. Through these communities of People of Color,
wide-ranging and diverse opportunities for the whole church will arise.
Finally, I offer two sets of recommendations based upon this research. The first is for
nurturing a People of Color Ministry. The second is around race relations in the UUA.
Recommendations for Unitarian Universalist People of Color Ministry:
1. Conduct a comprehensive census of People of Color in UUA congregations, district
boards and committees, and UUA Board and committees every four years. Include
survey questions related to multiracial families and transracial adoption. Request that
congregations to provide this information, with appropriate educational materials, during
the annual congregational certification process. Work with UUA District Staff to track
district board and committee data. Publish this statistical information so it is available for
use by UU community organizations such as DRUUMM, and for the UUA Journey
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Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee charged with implementing the AntiRacist/Multicultural UUA vision established by GA 1997. Maintain a database of People
of Color who have given permissions through the UUA.
2. Encourage negotiations between the UUA Administration and the DRUUMM Steering
Committee to establish DRUUMM as a Sponsored or Associate organization of the UUA
with increased access and funding to the institutional support systems for ministry,
community-building and communications. Ideally develop a relationship similar to the
UU Women’s Federation, UU Service Committee, Continental UU Young Adult
Network and Young Religious Unitarian Universalists where historically significant
funding, access and support have been provided to nurture an interconnected mission and
purpose. Funding for DRUUMM annually would preferably provide a ½ time
administrator and a ½ to full-time coordinator position, in addition to $30,000 USD
annually in program expenses. As part of this increased support, offer a pre or post twoday Anti-Racism for People of Color Leadership Institute adjacent to GA or the Annual
DRUUMM Conference.
3. Provide full support for the emerging People of Color Archive being organized by Rev.
Dr. Michelle Bentley at Meadville-Lombard in Chicago. Highlight this effort through
UUA media outlets, the congregational mailing and at GA. Use this archive as a center
for People of Color in Unitarian Universalism to connect, study, and deepen their
understanding.
4. Fund and staff an annual Multiracial & Families of Color weekend retreat in each UUA
District based on the model developed in the Pacific Northwest District 1998-2001 and
adapted recently by the UUA Identity Based Ministries Staff Group and the UUA Family
Matters Task Force. Establish a central administrator at the UUA to provide technical
assistance, communications and outreach services. Have each retreat sponsored by the
district, and managed jointly by the District Staff, District LREDA and UUMA chapters,
with representatives as able from the Youth and Young Adult communities.
5. Publish an annual Directory for People of Color that includes religious professionals of
color, local and district chapters of People of Color (i.e. DRUUMM), contacts for District
Multiracial & Family of Color Retreats, DRUUMM leadership including the Steering
Committee, Racial Identity Caucuses (i.e Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus), Seminarians of
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Color Caucus, UUA Affirmative Action Data, and a Calendar of Events for the upcoming
year.
6. Fund and support additional research and writing on the history and experience of People
of Color in Unitarian Universalism.
7. Host a funded gathering of religious professionals of color every three years, sponsored
jointly by DRUUMM, UUMA, LREDA, SCM, AUUM, UUMN and the UUA. Provide
priority attention, and funding if needed, for the reconciliation of religious professionals
of color.
8. Review and update a UUA process for handling and tracking bias and/or hate incidents at
all levels in the UUA. Make this information available annually through the
congregational mailing. Compile statistics annually, by the UUA and publish the data.
9. Complete and promote a new curriculum on anti-racism/multiculturalism. Ensure that it
is being utilized by at least 10% of the congregations in each UUA District. Track this
information and make available online similar to the UUA’s Welcoming Congregation
Program.
10. Provide intentional support and mentorship for Seminarians of Color.
Recommendations for UUA Race Relations
1. Fund and staff a UUA anti-racism/anti-oppression stakeholders meeting every four years
consistent with the repeated recommendations of the UUA Journey Towards Wholeness
Transformation Committee.159
2. Conduct a major attitudinal survey of Unitarian Universalists, modeled on the survey of
attitudes towards Gays and Lesbians in 1987.160
3. Review and provide a 30-year progress report on the 1981 UUA Institutional Racism
Audit. Publish summary results in the UU World print magazine by 2011.
4. Develop at least two additional courses on race relations in the ministry and make
mandatory for the credentialing of religious professionals.
5. Mandate that each UUA District host at least one open-attendance day-long anti-racism
workshop consistent with the Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee
goals each year. Make special invitation to religious professionals.
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6. Continue to improve the transparency and reporting of efforts to conduct racial justice
throughout the UUA. Mandate that the Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation
Committee provide an annual report on their assessment of UUA transparency.
7. Support the efforts of Anti-Racist White Unitarian Universalist organizing, educating and
mobilizing. This includes the recent efforts of a UUMA Focus Group for
White/European descent Anti-Racists to form.161
8. Adapt, study and incorporate Morrison-Reed’s “Common Ingredients For The Multiracial
UU Church” into an annual virtual class offered by the UUA or UU affiliated seminary.
Briefly, these are:

Established in Urban Area

Large Middle Class of People of Color

Minister and Congregation visibly and vocally concerned with issues of race
relations and justice, concerned with a PoC agenda

Intentionality in planning and action

Patience and focus over time162
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Table 1: Timeline of Racial Ideas 1980-2000
1979-1994
UUA Staff for
Urban Church Ministry
Focus on multiculturalism,
extension and new church
starts. Supports work of
Urban Church Coalition.
Race and Racism seen
primarily as innercity/minority problems
1980-1989
Dr. Loretta Williams
UUA Director of
Department for Social
Justice
1981
UUA Board Resolution
Racism Imperative
Quantative and
qualitative report with 32
recommendations
“UUA shall seek to
eliminate institutional
racism.”
First high profile
Black UUA Staff
1985
GA Business Resolution
Establishment of a Black Concerns Working
Group
“Establish continental, district and
local Black Concerns groups…to assist
in implementation of the 1984 Report
of the Task Force on Racism.”
Vision for organizing local
chapters of Black UU’s as
part of the process of
addressing racism (seeking to
connect to the experience of
people)
April 1981
UUA Staff & Board
Institutional Racism Audit
Historical account of
Empowerment
Controversy
First focus on the
institutionalization of racism
within the UUA
1986
UUA Board
Resolution
Anti-Arab Violence
“Calls UU’s to assist
in ending anti-Arab
racism”
Racism seen as
between
Blacks and
Whites
June 1983
Commission on Appraisal
Report
UU Quest for Racial Justice
Struggling to come to
terms with the pain of
the Empowerment
Controversy
1986-200x
Jacqui James
1987-2003
Mel Hoover
UUA Affirmative
Action Officer
Urban Concerns
Director of Programs
and Resources for
Lifespan Faith
Development
UUA Director of
Urban Programs
Advocate for Racial
Inclusiveness
Director Faith in
Action (Anti-Racism)
Public
recognition that
racism is not just
between Blacks
and Whites
Jacqui and Mel hired by UUA
and became foundation for
significant long-term vision and
action for anti-racism. Mel is
highest profile PoC face of
racial justice and People of
Color ministry.
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1988
African-American UU
Ministries
Founded at conference
sponsored by UUA
Ministry Department’s
Affirmative Action Task
Force
Black religious professionals
caucusing and supporting one
another. Beyond Categorical
Thinking Workshops developed
in order to help congregations
prevent unfair discrimination in
the ministerial search process.
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May 26, 2006
1990-1992
UUA Funding
Extension & Ethnic New Starts
$276,200
over 2 years
s
1992
GA Resolution of Immediate
Witness
Racial and Cultural Diversity
1993
GA General Resolution
Justice for Indigenous
Peoples
1995
Latino/a UU
Networking
Association
“Seeking a vision of a
racially diverse and
multicultural UUA.”
“Endorse UN
International Year of
Indigenous
Peoples…call UU to
(education and
action).”
Founded
Direct funding and technical support to start up or
grow UU congregations with intentional community
of People of Color. 9 of 12 new starts fail to survive.
Tahlequah, OK: Native American, Raleigh, NC:
Christian, Washington, DC: Beacon House make it.
All 9 extension ministry efforts see some success
working with existing congregations. Most notably
Oakland, CA, Jamaica Plain, MA and San Jose, CA.
1997
GA Business Resolution
Toward an Anti-Racist UUA
“Examine our conscious and unconscious
racism…and the effect that racism has on all
our lives…engage in anti-racism
training…transform all our institutions.”
Journey Towards Wholeness
Transformation Committee
established by UUA Board to
direct anti-racism transformation.
First specific explicit
call for racial
diversity in the
UUA, asks Board to
investigate How
1997-2000
UUA Anti-Racism Core
Organizing Team
Staff-Volunteer Group of
nearly 20 convened by the
Faith in Action Department
to provide accountability,
organizing vision and
support for anti-racism.
1995
Young Adults of Color
Network
Founded
Expansion of understanding of race, racism to include
colonized and Indigenous and Latino/a Peoples. People of
Color community building at multiple levels.
1998
Diverse &
Revolutionary UU
Multicultural
Ministries
Founded
A UU People of
Color Organization
Focus on organizing at all levels
of the institution, forming
congregational teams, updating
training goals and methods, and
including youth and young adults.
June 1998
Kansas City, MO
Anti-Racism Stakeholders
Meeting
Over a dozen UU
organizational leadership
teams meet to discuss vision,
strategy and implementation
of anti-racism goals.
First intentional
organization by
and for People of
Color in the UUA.
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2000
GA Statement of Conscience
Economic Injustice, Poverty,
and Racism
“Rededicate ourselves to
pursuit of economic
justice and an end to
racism.”
Anti-racism at all levels,
importance for People of Color
in leadership to meet.
Table 2: List of Ministers of Color Fellowshipped by the UUA 1980-2005
1980
Marshall Grigsby
1981
Yvonne Seon
1982
Adele Smith-Pennimen
1983
T Ewell Hopkins
1984
Melvin Hoover
Ronald White
Hyun Kim
1985
1986
Charles Yielbonzie
Johnson
1987
Jose Ballester
1988
Daniel Aldridge
1989
Toni Vincent
1990
1991
Don Robinson
Cheng-Imm Tan
1992
1993
1994
1995
Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley
William Sinkford
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Patricia Jimenez
1996
Michelle Bentley
1997
Chester McCall
1998
Danielle Dibona
1999
Laurie Auffant
2000
John Gilmore
Shana Goodwin
Monica Cummings
Gordon Bailey
2002
Hope Johnson
2003
Sofia Craethnenn
2004
Alicia Forde
John Crestwell
Tim Malone
Alma Crawford
2001
2005
Carlton Elliot Smith
Thandeka
Abhi Janamanchi
Kristin Harper
Toby Dubon
Peter Morales
Rosemary Bray McNatt
Karen Tse
Marta Valentin
Addae Watson
Jennifer Ryu
Leslie Takahashi-Morris
Manish Mishra
Presently there are 32 members of a newly formed DRUUMM
Seminarians Group seeking fellowship 2006-2010
People listed here have either (1) self-identified as a Person of Color; (2) participated in an
event for People of Color such as the Religious Professionals of Color Network or a
DRUUMM event; (3) been members of a UU organization such as Asian/Pacific Islander or
African-American UU Ministries that understood its membership to be People of Color.
Legend:
Italic – Retired or no longer affiliated with the UUA
Bold – Community ministry or further education or work outside UU congregation
Underline – Parish ministry in some capacity
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Appendix A: Survey of Unitarian Universalist People of Color 2005
PURPOSE
The main goal of this survey is to understand the attitudes, hopes and concerns of Unitarian
Universalist Persons of Color. The responses will be used for a Senior Thesis on “A 25 Year
History of People of Color in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005”.
STUDY CONTACT
The Principle Investigator is Joseph Santos-Lyons, Harvard University Masters of Divinity
Student, who can be reached at (503)490-5639 or [email protected] The survey
may be emailed, or mailed hard copy to 1a Eliot St, Somerville, MA 02143 by December 1st.
My advisor is Professor Wallace Best.
We would like your name and contact information for possible follow-up interviews. By
providing us with your name, you consent to follow up. We will request written permission if
your name is to be used in any publication or website.
Name:
Phone:
Email:
10 QUESTION SURVEY (please write as much as you like, use additional paper if necessary)
Personal/Reflective
1. How do you identify racially, ethnically and/or culturally?
2. What does the term “Person of Color” mean to you?
3. What does the term “Community of Color” mean to you?
4. Why are you a Unitarian Universalist and/or Why have you chosen to remain a Unitarian
Universalist?
Historical
5. What do you consider to be important historical moments in Unitarian Universalism for
you?
Social/Cultural
6. Are you aware of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Anti-Racism efforts advanced
primarily from the 1997 Journey Towards Wholeness resolution of the GA? If yes, what
is your opinion of these efforts?
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7. What is the racial/cultural diversity of your chosen community of worship?
8. Statistically, congregations in Unitarian Universalism are over 90% White racially,
culturally and ethnically. What is your opinion of this state of affairs?
9. Do you perceive barriers in our Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities
that prevent Persons of Color from joining? If so, what are your opinions of this
condition?
10. What elements are needed for a growing, organized, active Community of Color within
the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations?
Identifying Background Information
11. Are you a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation? If yes, for how many years
have you been a member? Circle one: YES / NO
12. What geographic area do you most identify with as your region of origin? (circle one)
a. South
b. North
c. Midwest
d. Northwest
e. Southwest (i.e., California)
f. International/Outside the United States of America
g. None of the Above
13. What gender do you identify as? (circle one)
a. Male
b. Female
c. Transgender
14. In your own opinion, how would you identify your level of involvement in the wider
Unitarian Universalist Association beyond your local community? (circle one)
a. Very involved
b. Somewhat involved
c. Limited involvement
d. Not involved beyond my local Unitarian Universalist Community
15. Have you ever attended an event for Unitarian Universalist People of Color? (circle one)
a. Yes
b. No
c. Not sure
16. What age range best describes you? (circle one)
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a.
b.
c.
d.
Under 25
26 to 35
36 to 50
Over 50
Survey Deadline December 1st, 2005
Mailing: Joseph Santos-Lyons, 1a Eliot Street, Somerville, MA 02143
Email: [email protected]
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Appendix B: Crossroads Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Institution
Page 137 of 153
Appendix C: Meadville/Lombard Theological School, Multicultural Ministry Program
(MMP) Components (credit: Rev. Dr. Michelle Bentley)
COLLOQUIA
January 1994 – “A Model of Oppression with Application for Ministry.” Dr. Bill Jones, Florida
State University and UUA Board of Trustees.
February 1994 – Dr. Prathia Hall Wynn, University of Chicago, IL.
February 1994 – “Faith, Hope and Struggle: Liberation Theology’s Challenge to the Liberal
Church.” The Rev. Susan Harlow, Meadville/Lombard Winter Institute.
November 1994 – “Dreams of the Good: White Supremacy.” Dr. Sharon Welch, University of
Missouri, MO.
December 1995 – “Society in the 21st Century.” Dr. Jewel Graham, Antioch College, OH.
February 1996 – “Turning Back the Tide of Violence.” Geoffrey Canada, New York, NY,
Meadville/Lombard Winter Institute.
April 1996 – “Liberating Liberal Theology.” Dr. Elias Farajaje-Jones, Howard Divinity School
and Starr King School for the Ministry.
ANTI-RACISM TRAINING
January 1994 – Dr. Bill Jones
February 1994 – “Doing Theology Justice.” Dr. Thandeka, Williams College, MA.
April 1994 – “Creating a Jubilee World.” The Black Concerns Working Group, UUA (Norma
Poinsett and Dr. Harvey Thomas).
May 1995 – “Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression All-Day Workshop.” Presented by PeopleWorks,
Karen Hutt.
April 1996 – Rev. Mel Hoover, Department of Social Justice and Racial and Cultural Diversity,
UUA.
RELIGIOUS LEADERSHIP SEMINARS
February 1994 – “Conversations with Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed.”
February 1994 – “How Open the Door.” Video and discussion, a UU historical religious
education documentary by Morrison-Reed.
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February 1994 – “UU Responses to Slavery in the South.” Rev. Morris Hudgins, Minister-inResidence.
May 1994 – “Substance Abuse, etc.” Mike Cebuhar, AIDS Specialist, Department of Alcohol
and Substance Abuse.
May 1994 – “A Look into the UUA’s Diversity Initiative.” Rev. Michelle Bentley,
Meadville/Lombard Theological School.
May 1994 – “The Rose Bud Reservation Experience.” David Scheuneman.
November 1994 – “Multiculturalism, Pluralism, Anti-Racism: A Panel Discussion with AfricanAmerican Unitarian Universalists.” Norma Poinsett, Gwen Thomas, Michelle Bentley.
February 1995 – “Beacon House Community Ministry.” Rev. Donald Robinson, Washington
DC.
April 1995 – “A Multicultural New Church Start.” Rev. Charles Yielbonzie Johnson, Tulsa, OK.
May 1995 – “Men’s Anger Network.” Ben Watende Mtundu.
October 1995 – “The World of Social Service.” Dr. Jewel Graham, Scholar-in-Residence.
November 1995 – “Legal Issues Continued.” Jewel Graham.
January 1996 – “Just Works.” Rev. Jose Ballester, UU Service Committee and Latino UU
Ministers Group.
February 1996 – “Clergy Sexual Conduct/Misconduct.” Rev. Terasa Cooley, First Church,
Chicago.
March 1996 – “Clergy Sexual Misconduct II.” Rev. Cooley.
May 1996 – “Visions, Actions, Interactions and Relations Between African-American
Forebearers and the Universalist Church.” Dr. Willard Frank, Jr., Meadville/Lombard Board
member, Norfolk, VA.
May 1996 – “Conflict Management I.”
May 1996 – “Conflict Management II.”
May 1996 – “The Center for Religion and Psychotherapy.” Sister Phyllis Sheppard and Nadine
Swahnberg.
CONFERENCES/SOCIAL ACTIVITIES (selected)
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January 1994 – “African-American UU Ministries Meeting.”
November 1994 – “Black Universalist Centennial 1894-1994.” Norfolk, VA.
December 1994 – “UUA Diversity Consultation.”
January 1996 – “Renewing Our Faith in the City.” UUA Urban Church Conference, New
Orleans, LA.
WORSHIP/SOCIAL EVENTS (selected)
November 1993 – “A Cultural Diversity Worship Service.” Students representing five countries
led worship at Central Midwest District annual meeting.
December 1993 – “Drum Service on Racism.” Barbara Hoag.
October 1994 – “African-American Faculty and Student Reps Tea.”
November 1994 – “Sankofa.” South African movie production of the Middle Passage.
April 1995 – “Reception for African-American Theologians at the University of Chicago
Convocation.”
May 1995 – “The Afro-Centric Idea.” Alex Poinsett, President-elect First Unitarian Church,
Chicago IL, and Rev. John Gilmore, Meadville/Lombard graduate.
June 1995 – “Encounters with Another Kind.” Abhi Prakash Janamanchi, a Hindu/UU Vespers.
April 1996 – “Japanese Tea Ceremony.” Keiko Utsunomiya.
COURSE WORK
Fall 1994 – “African-American Literature and Spirituality.” Visiting professor, Dr. Gwen
Thomas, Meadville/Lombard Board of Trustees.
March 1995 – “Should Holy Unions Be Legalized?” The Jerry Springer Show – Bentley
performed two unions, used video in RLS class on weddings and holy unions.
April 1995 – “Our God is Able: A Retrospective on the Civil Rights Movement as an
Ecumenical and Interfaith movement.” University of Chicago Convocation.
Spring 1995 – “Multicultural Religious Education and Community Ministry.” Bentley and
Harlow co-teachers with trips into the community.
On-going – “Training for Cross-Cultural Ministry.” Professors Barbour and Doidge – Trip to the
Lakota nation, Rose Bud Reservation.
Page 140 of 153
RECRUITMENT TRAVEL
February 1994 – Atlanta University Complex: Spelman University, Morehouse University,
Morris Brown University, Atlanta University, Clark College, and Emory University.
November 1994 – Hampton University, VA, Norfolk State University.
October 1995 – Howard University Divinity School, Morgan State University, Wesley
Theological School.
Page 141 of 153
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Goetz, Kristina. “Man Leads Church He Once Left: Racial Issues Among Cincinnati Native’s
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<www.enquirer.com>.
Greer, Jane. “Transracial Adoption Enlarges Congregations.” UU World May/June 2003.
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The World Mar/Apr 2000.
Kiernan, Louise. “A Part, A Ministry to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender AfricanAmericans.” The World Sep/Oct 1997. 21-23.
King Jr., Martin Luther. “Don’t Sleep Through The Revolution: Ware Lecture at UUA General
Assembly.” The Register-Leader Midsummer 1966. 9-11.
Merrill, Charles. “Negro Pressure and White Liberals.” The Register-Leader June 1967. 3-6.
Mitchell, Henry H. “The Cold, White Church.” The Register-Leader Midsummer 1966. 14-15.
Newman, Richard. “Black Power and White Liberals.” The Register-Leader November 1966.
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Provost, Gary. “Ethelred Brown: A Legacy to Black People in Harlem.” UU World 15 February
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Reich, David. “Conference Report: Theology, Faith, and Action: A Consultation on Racial
Justice.” The World May/Jun 1998. 32-35.
Reich, David. “From an Island to a Continent: A Spanish Language Ministry.” The World
Jul/Aug 1995. 31-34.
Ross, Warren R. “Becoming Multicultural: How One Church Points The Way.” The World
Mar/Apr 1993.
Rousseau, Rita. “Bicultural Marriage and Unitarian Universalism.” The World Mar/Apr 1999.
Schultz, William. “An Open Letter to White Unitarian Universalists.” The World Mar/Apr
1988. 2-3.
Sewell, Marilyn. “Repression of the Sublime.” UU World 15 August 2005.
Skinner, Donald. “A First Step, or Way Station, on the Journey.” UU World Jan/Feb 2002.
Stites, Tom. “Antiracism Primer.” The World Mar/Apr 2000.
Stites, Tom. “Q&A with John Buehrens.” The World Mar/Apr 2000.
Stites, Tom. “Racism.” The World Mar/Apr 2000.
Thandeka. “How Black Are We? An Update.” The World May/Jun 1994. 35-36.
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Bentley, Michelle W. The White Face of Theological Education: A Case Study Of Movement To
Anti-Racist, Multicultural Theological Education. A Professional Paper submitted to the
Chicago Theological Seminary Faculty in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of
Ministry. May 1998.
Cohen, Judy. Understanding Urban ministry today through the legacy of Joseph Tuckerman :
where is the ministry in urban ministry? MDiv Thesis. Harvard Divinity School, 1997.
Higgins, Daniel. UUA and the Color Line. DMin Dissertation. Meadville/Lombard Theological
School, 1977.
Murphy, Christine. A History of Institutional Unitarian Universalist Anti-Racism: 1969-1997.
MDiv Thesis. Harvard Divinity School, 1997.
Tiller, Elaine. Unitarian Universalists and Issues of Class. MDiv Thesis. Harvard Divinity
School, 1994.
Newsletters
Faith in Action: News and Resources for Unitarian Universalists Working for Justice 1997,
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001. Twice yearly publication of the UUA Faith in Action Department.
Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association News. 2002-2005. Quarterly publication of the
UUMA Executive Committee.
YaYA Beat. 2003-2005. Twice year publication of the DRUUMM Youth and Young Adults of
Color Steering Committee.
Reports and Documents
Boston, Taquiena. Identity Based Ministries April Report to the UUA Board of Trustees. March
21, 2006.
In Their Own Words. Collection of writings of persons involved in the Empowerment
Controversy 1967-1977. Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, 2003.
Institutional Racism Audit. A report to the Board of Trustees of the UUA by the Institutional
Racism Audit Team and Community Change, Inc. Comissioned by the Unitarian
Universalist Association. April 1981.
Martin, Diane, and Robinson-Harris, Tracey. Congregational Services Report on AntiRacism/Anti-Oppression for the UUA Committee on Committees. March 21, 2006.
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The Language of Race. Unpublished manuscript. Unitarian Universalist Association. Undated.
Unitarian Universalist Religious Professionals of Color. Grant application to the Unitarian
Universalist Funding Panel. 1997.
Multimedia
Cordes, Ron. Wilderness journey [videorecording]: The Struggle for Black Empowerment and
Racial Justice within the Unitarian Universalist Association: 1967-1970. A Film by Ron
Cordes, 2003.
Jones, William R. Theology and activism [videorecording] at the Unitarian Universalist
Association. William R. Jones, Judith Meyer. 1989.
Morrison-Reed, Mark. How open the door?[kit]:Afro-Americans' experience in Unitarian
Universalism : a multimedia program for adults. Mark D. Morrison-Reed. 1989. 1
book (Leader guide), 2 cassettes, 1 videocassette.
Websites
Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries Online.
<www.druumm.org>.
Unitarian Universalist Association Online. <www.uua.org>.
Endnotes
1
Unitarian Universalist Association. Journey Towards Wholeness Report. June 1997.
The General Assembly is the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, or the UUA
for short. Delegates are elected by the congregation and attend a series of business plenaries over the course of a
weekend. There are also hundreds of workshops and other events, drawing additional participants to GA who are
not business delegates. Attendance at GA has grown to over 3,000 annually, with less than 50% attending as
delegates.
2
3
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1980.
4
Ibid. viii.
5
DRUUMM is the Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries, a Unitarian
Universalist People of Color organization founded by religious professionals of Color in 1998.
6
The training at Youth Council was led by the UUA Faith in Action Department trainers: Rev. Mel Hoover and
Christine Murphy.
7
Institutional Racism definition utilized by Crossroads Ministry, People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and
others. Key components are understanding the difference between individual prejudice and the systemic/cultural
manifestations, plus the clear focus on power within institutions, individuals, over and with communities.
Documentation may be found at <www.crossroadsministry.org>.
8
Zinn, Howard. You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2002. 1.
9
Dias, Robette. Historical Development of Institutional Racism. Crossroads Ministry Co-Executive Director.
Chicago, IL, 2005.
Page 147 of 153
10
Morrison-Reed, Mark. “How Open the Door? How Loud the Call?” UUMA Selected Essays. Boston, MA:
Unitarian Universalist Association, 1993. 87-98.
11
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1980.
12
The Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association publishes an annual reading list
from which candidates for the ministry must study in advance of their interview in order to be fellowshipped and
eligible for general ordination. The list contains over 50 books from which they have to select and sign a statement
confirming that these books have been read. Reading requirements related to People of Color and multiculturalism
include: Weaving the Fabric of Diversity curriculum which includes one session on racism, the 1983 Commission on
Appraisal Report Unitarian Universalism and the Quest for Racial Justice, and the 1996 Journey Towards
Wholeness Report to the General Assembly.
The current list is available at <www.uua.org/programs/ministry/credentialing/preparation/reading.html>.
13
While the American Unitarian Association and Universalist Church of America merged officially 1961, youth and
young adults merged their organizations in 1954. Discussions were underway during the decade leading up to the
official merger. For more background see: Ross, Warren. The Premise and the Promise. Boston, MA: Skinner
House Books, 2001.
14
According to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation annual Uniform Crime Report, in 2004, racial bias
motivated more than half (53.9 percent) of the 9,021 reported offenses within single-bias hate crime incidents;
religious bias accounted for 16.4 percent; bias regarding sexual orientation, 15.6 percent; ethnicity or national origin,
13.3 percent; and disability bias, 0.8 percent. <http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/section1.htm>.
15
Star Trek popular culture reference to the cyborg or “borg,” who assimilate and readily adapt to maintain power
and privilege.
16
In 2004, racial bias motivated more than half (53.9 percent) of the 9,021 reported offenses within single-bias hate
crime incidents; religious bias accounted for 16.4 percent; bias regarding sexual orientation, 15.6 percent; ethnicity
or national origin, 13.3 percent; and disability bias, 0.8 percent. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/section1.htm
17
Kein, Sybil, ed. Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color. Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 2000. 131. Also see:
<www.frenchcreoles.com/CreoleCulture/freepeopleofcolor/freepeopleofcolor.htm>.
18
Western States Center. The Construction of Race and Racism. Portland, OR: Western States Center, 2003. 13.
19
Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries. By-Laws Article II, Section I: Mission. 2000. Available
online at www.druumm.org/Bylaws2000.html
20
Crossroads Ministry. Racial Identity Caucusing: A Strategy for Building Anti-Racist Collectives. Chicago, IL:
Crossroads Ministry, n.d.
21
Dias, Robette. Personal Interview. November 5, 2005.
22
Brumfield, Tony. Personal Interview via Email. February 23, 2006.
23
Dibona, Danielle. Personal Interview via Email. March 15, 2006. Action steps were agreed upon at a meeting of
DRUUMM Religious Professionals, May 14, 2001, that were never completed. The first and primary step was to
work to create different language (inclusive and agreed upon) to describe DRUUMM membership. Attending the
meeting were Diane Arakawa, Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, Mel Hoover, Jose Ballester, Danielle Dibona, Patricia
Jimenez, Mark Morrison-Reed, Michelle Bentley, John Gilmore and Peter Morales. Kenn Hurto, UUMA VicePresident took notes.
24
Unitarian Universalist Association. General Assembly Business Resolution: Establishment of a Black Concerns
Working Group. 1985.
25
DRUUMM MultiRac in 2005-2006 was convened by Catie Chi Olson and Kelli Eng.
26
McCall, Chester. Personal Interview. May 9, 2006. Noted that some in the community of People of Color still
feel that we are owed several hundred thousand dollars from the UUA commitments to the Black Affairs Council in
1968.
27
Brumfield, Tony. Personal Interview via Email. February 23, 2006.
28
Steinman, Harry. “Milk Allergy and Lactose Intolerance.” Science in Africa. May 2002.
<www.scienceinafrica.co.za>.
29
Unitarian Universalist Association. “Institutional Racism Audit.” Boston, MA: UUA, 1981. 39.
30
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1980. xvii, 109
Page 148 of 153
31
Organizations for African-Americans, Latino/as, Asian/Pacific Islanders and American Indians/Native Americans
continue to ebb and flow without staff support, consistent annual budgets and active participation at the
congregational level. See Chapter VII for more discussion.
32
Carpenter, Victor. Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). Chicago, IL: Meadville
Lombard Press, 2004.
33
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston, MA: Skinner House Books, 1980. xii.
34
Carpenter, Victor. Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). Chicago, IL: Meadville
Lombard Press, 2004.
35
Ross, Warren. “The UUA Meets Black Power: BAC vs. BAWA, 1967-1971.” UU World (March/April 2000).
36
Black and White Alternative. Prospectus Paper circulated at General Assembly 1968 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cited
in: Carpenter, Victor. Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). Chicago, IL: Meadville
Lombard Press, 2004. 37.
37
Carpenter, Victor. Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). Chicago, IL: Meadville
Lombard Press, 2004. 2.
38
Unitarian Universalist Association. Unitarian Universalism Needs and Aspirations Survey. Boston, MA: UUA,
1998. 7892 respondents answered the question phrased “What is Your Racial/Cultural Identity?”. 8118 total
respondents from 118,000 copies of the September/October UU World distribution, on the UUA website, and to
people who called the UUA for copies.. Percentages total more than 100% as people could check all that apply.
Summary by: Stites, Tom. “Needs and Aspirations Survey Results.” UU World (May/June 1998).
39
McIntosh, Peggy. “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account
of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies (Working Paper). Ed. Peggy McIntosh.
Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, 1988. The working paper contains a longer list
of privileges and analysis.
40
Sewell, Marilyn. “Repression of the Sublime.” UU World (Fall 2005).
41
Schultz, William. “An Open Letter to White Unitarian Universalists.” The World (Mar/Apr 1988).
42
DRUUMM Seminarians in 2005-2006 met twice a month with guest speakers. Rebecca Parker spoke to the group
on February 13th, 2006.
43
Unitarian Universalist Association. “Institutional Racism Audit.” Boston, MA: UUA, 1981. 35.
44
Parker, Rebecca. President of Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian Universalist) in presentation and
discussion with the DRUUMM Seminarians Caucus February 13 th, 2006. Used with permission.
45
Stites, Tom. “Racism.” UU World (March/April 2000).
46
Schultz, William. “An Open Letter to White Unitarian Universalists.” The World (Mar/Apr 1988).
47
Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries. By-Laws Article II, Section II: Racial Justice Covenant:
Resistance and Harmony. 2000.
48
Walton, Christopher. “Exclusive: Point of Personal Privilege to the Moderator, June 24, 2002.” UU World
(Sep/Oct 2002).
49
Sinkford, William. Introduction. Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). By Carpenter.
Chicago, IL: Meadville-Lombard Press, 2004. viii-ix
50
Stites, Tom. “New Survey of UUs Shows Theological Differences, Common Values.” The World (May/Jun
1998).
51
Unity Church-Unitarian. Institutional Audit of Unity Church-Unitarian. St Paul, MN: Unity Church-Unitarian,
2005. 48.
52
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1980. 192.
53
Unitarian Universalist Association. “Institutional Racism Audit.” Boston, MA: UUA, 1981. 36.
54
Ibid. 37.
55
Our Continuing Pioneers: Our UU Youth of Color. Letter. Chicago, IL: Mark Morrison-Reed Archive, 1986.
56
This includes Latino/a ministers who may or may not identify as “Ministers of Color.”
57
Unitarian Universalist Association. Ministerial Fellowship Committee Policies.
<www.uua.org/programs/ministry/mfc/policies.pdf>.
58
McCall, Chester. Personal Interview. May 9, 2006.
59
There is no information available in detail to seminarians of color or through the Office of Identity Based
Ministries. Currently the program, which was held once in 2005, is again on hold for lack of funding and staff
support.
60
McCall, Chester. Personal Interview. May 9, 2006.
61
Trained by Crossroads Ministry.
Page 149 of 153
62
Unitarian Universalist Association. “Institutional Racism Audit.” Boston, MA: UUA, 1981. 6.
Ibid. 46-49.
64
Ibid. 38.
65
Ibid. 36.
66
The March/April 2000 World marks this date in a timeline as 1989, however evidence from meeting notes proves
this to be erroneous.
67
Morrison-Reed. Personal Interview. February 2, 2006.
68
Unitarian Universalist Association. “Institutional Racism Audit.” Boston, MA: UUA, 1981. 37.
69
“UUA Affirmative Action Report.” The World. Mar/Apr 1991. 36.
70
Unitarian Universalist Association. Affirmative Action Reports to the General Assembly. 2000-2005 except 2002.
Available from the UUA Director of Human Resources or online in the UUA Staff Reports at www.uua.org/ga
71
“General Assembly Report.” The World. Sept/Oct 1993. 42-43.
72
Walton, Christopher. “Exclusive: Point of Personal Privilege to the Moderator, June 24, 2002.” UU World
(Sep/Oct 2002).
73
Unitarian Universalist Association. Special Review Comission Final Report to the Board of Trustees. Boston,
MA: UUA, April 2006. 2.
74
Ibid. 25.
75
McCall, Chester. Personal Interview. May 9, 2006.
76
“Statistical Summary.” Unitarian Universalist Association Online. 2006. 158,076 certified adult members.
www.uua.org/aboutuua/statistics.html. children’s, quote from recent UUA growth reports
77
Congress of African-American Unitarian Universalist Organizations. Press Release. New African-American UU
Organization Forms. June 22, 1989.
78
Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries. Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus ByLaws. 2003. <www.apiuu.org>.
79
Kim, Young. “How We Began.” Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus Online. March 2005.
<www.apiuu.org/began.htm>.
80
“Latino UU Network.” The World Mar/Apr 1995. 33.
81
UU World Article that refers to this
82
Latino/a Unitarian Universalist Networking Association. Bylaws. 1997. On file with the Unitarian Universalist
Association, 25 Beacon St, Boston MA 02108.
83
Now Rev. Marta Valentin-Chase, serving as Senior Minister of the First UU Church of New Orleans, Louisiana.
84
Unitarian Universalist Association. Staff Report to General Assembly. UUA Annual Reports 2004. 17, 35.
85
Ibid. 15.
86
“EUROPEAN UU’s” Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association News Winter 2006 page 19
87
Arnason, Wayne. Follow the Gleam. Boston, MA: UUA, 1980.
88
Arnason, Wayne, and Scott, Rebecca. We Would Be One: A History of Unitarian Universalist Youth Movements.
Boston, MA: Skinner House Books, 2005.
89
In 2002, the Canadian Unitarian Council separated formally from the Unitarian Universalist Association. The
UUA still provides various programs and services to Canadian congregations, such as ministry, religious education,
young adult and campus ministry, and youth. The UUA is primarily an American organization, although Canadian
congregations were permitted to retain their membership with the UUA, and several international congregations
have grandfathered membership including ones in Australia and the Philippines. Currently any international
congregation seeking direct services and membership in an association are directed to the International Council of
Unitarian Universalists.
90
Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal. Unitarian Universalism and the Quest for Racial
Justice. Boston, MA : UUA, 1983. 1.
91
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1980. viii.
92
Howe, Charles. David Eaton. Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography. Unitarian Universalist
Historical Society. 1999-2006. <www.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/davidheaton.html>.
93
Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal. Unitarian Universalism and the Quest for Racial
Justice. Boston, MA : UUA, 1983. viii.
94
Unitarian Universalist Association. Racial Imperative. UUA Board Resolution. 1981.
95
Mongomery, Kay. Personal Interview. March 25, 1997. Qtd. Murphy. 20
96
Unitarian Universalist Association. “Institutional Racism Audit.” Boston, MA: UUA, 1981. 37.
63
Page 150 of 153
97
Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal. Unitarian Universalism and the Quest for Racial
Justice. Boston, MA : UUA, 1983. 183.
98
Ibid. 161.
99
Ibid. 162.
100
Ibid. 165.
101
Wolff, Robert P, Moore, Barrington, and Marcuse, Herbert. A Critique of Pure Tolerance. Boston, MA: Beacon
Press, 1965. Qtd. Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal. Unitarian Universalism and the
Quest for Racial Justice. Boston, MA : UUA, 1983. 81.
102
Ibid. 172.
103
Ibid. 173.
104
Ibid. 173.
105
Unity Church-Unitarian. Institutional Audit of Unity Church-Unitarian. St Paul, MN: Unity Church-Unitarian,
2005. 48.
106
Unitarian Universalist Association. “Institutional Racism Audit.” Boston, MA: UUA, 1981. 31-32.
107
Murphy, Christine. “A History of Institutional Unitarian Universalist Anti-Racism: 1969-1997.” MDiv Thesis.
Harvard Divinity School, 1997. 4-5.
108
Ibid. 16
109
Ibid. 18
110
African-American Unitarian Universalist Ministries. African-American Ministers Conference Goal, Purposes
and Agenda. November 13-16, 1988.
111
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Personal Interview. February 2, 2006.
112
Montgomery, Kay. Personal Interview. March 26, 1997. Qtd. Murphy page 28
113
Schultz, William. “An Open Letter to White Unitarian Universalists.” The World Mar/Apr 1988. 2.
114
Unity-Unitarian Church of St Paul, MN. Anti-Racism Team.
<http://www.unityunitarian.org/antiracismteam.htm>.
115
Spencer, Leon. Personal Interview. November, 18, 1997. Qtd Murphy, Page 23.
116
Martin, Diane, and Robinson-Harris, Tracey. Congregational Services Report on Anti Racism/Anti-Oppression
for the UUA Committee on Committees. March 21, 2006.
117
Hoover, Melvin. Personal Interview. March 26, 1997. Qtd. Murphy Page 29
118
URBANUU. Unitarian Universalist Association Online. <www.uua.org/urbanuu/history.html>.
119
Unitarian Universalist Association. Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee Vision, Charge and
History. Report to the UUA Board. January 2004.
120
“Racial Justice: For Such A Time As This.” The World Sep/Oct 1993. 43 .
121
“Racial Justice II.” The World Sep/Oct 1994. 49.
122
Ibid. 49.
123
“Latino UU Network.” The World Mar/Apr 1995. 33.
124
Leslie, Susan. “Continuing the Journey Towards Wholeness.” UUA Faith in Action Newsletter. Fall/Winter
1997.
125
“Conference Report: Theology, Faith, And Action Consultation on Racial Justice.” The World. May/Jun 1998.
32-36.
126
Thandeka. What’s Wrong With Anti-Racism: Why Anti-Racism Will Fail. UUA General Assembly Workshop.
June 1999.
127
“Jubilee Working Group Response to Thandeka’s ‘What’s Wrong With Anti-Racism: Why Anti-Racism Will
Fail.” UUA Faith in Action Newsletter. Fall/Winter 1999. 14.
128
Ibid. 15.
129
Professional Development. Unitarian Universalist Association Online. 2006.
<www.uua.org/programs/ministry/development/>.
130
Many Paths, One Journey. Unitarian Universalist Association Online.
<www.uua.org/programs/justice/antiracism/consultancy.html>.
131
The Beyond Categorical Thinking (BCT) program works with Unitarian Universalist congregations to promote
inclusive thinking and help prevent unfair discrimination in the ministerial search process. During the Beyond
Categorical Thinking visit, the congregation will learn more about its institutional culture, examine ways it can be
more inclusive in its consideration of ministerial candidates, and surface subtle and often unintentional, unconscious
Page 151 of 153
biases members hold that may result in a decision to not select the minister who would be the best fit for their
ministerial needs. Unitarian Universalists ministers who identify as people of color; as Latina/Latino/Hispanic; as
bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender; or as a person with a disability often have a more difficult time in the
ministerial search process because of unconscious congregational biases. Even in congregations that have called a
minister, interim minister, or intern from one of the aforementioned identity groups, new biases have arisen because
the congregation mistakenly assumed that the presence of these ministers means that they have adequately addressed
diversity issues and need no further work. <www.uua.org/programs/idbm/bct/>.
132
These stages refer to the Crossroads Ministry Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Institution.
Adapted from original concept by Baily Jackson and Rita Hardiman; further developed by Andrea Avazian and
Ronice Branding. There are six stages in the continuum, describing institutional conditions from monocultural, to
multicultural, to anti-racist, to anti-racist multicultural.
133
Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. European-American Anti-Racist Transformation Focus Group.
UUMA News, Winter 2006. 8.
134
Bowens-Wheatley, Marjorie, and Palmer, Nancy Jones. Soul Work. Boston, MA: Skinner House Books, 2002.
199.
135
Lewis Latimer (1848-1928) was a founder of the Unitarian Church in Flushing, Queens, New York. Born in
Chelsea, Massachusetts, the son of escaped slaves, Latimer was a well-known inventor who worked closely with
Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison.
136
Sinkford, William. Personal Interview. December, 19, 2005; and McCall, Chester. Personal Interview. May 14,
2006.
137
McCall, Chester. Personal Interview. May 14, 2006.
138
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1980. 165.
139
Poinsett, Norma. “The following is an excerpt from remarks Norma Poinsett made March 3, 1999.” First
Unitarian Church, Chicago, IL. <www.firstuchicago.org/norma_on_uu.html>. Norma was a Trustee at Large for
the Unitarian Universalist Association and has been attending First Unitarian Church, Chicago, IL, since 1958.
140
Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal. The Quality of Religious Life in Unitarian
Universalist Congregations. Boston, MA : UUA, 1989. 8.
141
“In Los Angeles: A Racial Growth Unit.” The World 15 November 1981. 1.
142
“Los Angeles Opens Liberal Religion to Asian Americans.” UU World 15 September 1982. 3.
143
Adams, Elizabeth Ellis. “Minorities Give Rich Diversity to an Open Denomination.” The World 15 April 1981.
7.
144
“UUA’s First Black Woman Minister Shares Her Views.” The World 15 August 1982. 1, 3.
145
“Racially Diverse Groups Meet.” The World Jan/Feb 1991. 22.
146
Coalition of African-American Unitarian Universalist Organizations. Coalition Member Mission Statements.
Document. N.d.
147
“Ethnic New Start” , was the language used by the UUA in the 1980s and 1990s to denote congregational startup
or extension efforts (building on existing congregations), with an emphasis on ministering and welcoming People of
Color as new members.
148
Bentley, Michelle. Personal Interview. February 2, 2006.
149
Morrison-Reed. “History of African-American Experience in Unitarian Universalism.” Forthcoming. 6.
150
See Apendix C: Meadville/Lombard Theological School Multicultural Ministry Program Components.
151
Bentley, Michelle. The White Face of Theological Education: A Case Study of Movement to Anti-Racist,
Multicultural Theological Education. D.Min. Professional Paper. Chicago Theological Seminary. May 1998. 1314.
152
Ibid. 14.
153
Ibid. 16.
154
Ibid. 20-21.
155
Unitarian Universalist Religious Professionals of Color. Gathering of Religious Professionals of Color. Grant to
the Unitarian Universalist Funding Panel. 1997.
156
Unity Church-Unitarian. Institutional Audit of Unity Church-Unitarian. St Paul, MN: Unity Church-Unitarian,
2005. 45. And, Stites, Tom. “Antiracism Timeline.” The World Mar/Apr 2000.
157
Bentley, Michelle. Personal Interview. February 2, 2006.
Page 152 of 153
158
Channing, William Ellery. Self Culture. Electronic Version, American Unitarian Conference website.
<www.americanunitarian.org/selfculture.htm>.
159
Unitarian Universalist Association Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee. Report and
Recommendations to the 2001 General Assembly. Boston, MA: UUA, 2001.
160
Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal. Interdependence : Renewing Congregational
Polity. Boston, MA : UUA, 1997. 139. Survey entitled Common Vision, ”designed to reach deep into the soul of
our Unitarian Universalist movement in search of feelings and attitudes toward gay and lesbian people, and in search
of the fears, dreams, needs, and hopes of UUs regarding the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in Unitarian
Universalism.”
161
Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. European-American Anti-Racist Transformation Focus Group.
UUMA News, Winter 2006. 8. For more information contact Rev. Heather Janules [email protected]
162
Morrison-Reed, Mark. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1980. 203205.
Page 153 of 153